George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New
RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section. It will
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
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
campaign must maintain to be effective. But the mission will
be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick",
by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.
That's all I promise.
to return to the current Rapid Response list
SATURDAY, March 29
Stem cell research, an important
scientific initiative, continues to be the darling of the lay
press...and continues to be garbled in that process. One basic
fact is that embryonic stem cells so far can only be obtained
by destroying a human being. Whether that remains the case is the
scientific / ethical challenge. Until then, this
fact must be faced. See "Six Stem Cell Facts", by Robert
P. George and Rev. Thomas V. Berg, L.C., WSJ Wednesday, March 14, 2007,
Opinion, pA15. However, there may be a reasonable and ethical
grey area in considering the use of surplus fertilized ova that result
from increrasingly popular in-vitro fertilization to overcome the
infertility of many couples...and that are doomed to ultimate
destruction in most instances. The danger is in stimulating the
development of an embryo industry in the hands of those evil
opportunists always among us. A recent editorial in The Day tries
to bridge this chasm, with partial success (see "Our State On The
Cutting Edge", Thursday, March 29, 2007, Opinion, pA10).
There will be many more such challenges to our ethical society as
science approaches "the Singularity", the time when humans will risk a
take-over of our free will and freedom by
technology. This is not science fiction...ask the
A new feature in this section will be continuing
emphasis on Russia vis a vis the U.S. and the world. Russia may
be the real Joker in the deck of this dangerous global game that we are
The American Conservative
March 26, 2007
To Russia with Realism
The White House senselessly risks a new Cold War.
By Anatol Lieven
Anatol Lieven is co-author, with John Hulsman, of
Ethical Realism: A Vision for America’s Role in
the World and a senior research fellow at the New
America Foundation in Washington, D.C.
As if the U.S. did not have enough on its plate,
the latest strongly anti-American statements of
President Vladimir Putin and other Russian
officials suggest the possibility of a new Cold
War with Russia. And from the Russian point of
view, these statements are only responding to a
series of bitterly anti-Russian statements and
actions by the Bush administration over the past
year, including plans to bring Ukraine into NATO;
the speech by Vice President Cheney in Vilnius
last July attacking Russia; backing for Georgia
in its conflict with Russian-backed breakaway
republics; and the latest move to extend American
anti-missile defenses to Eastern Europe.
At best, deep mutual hostility between the U.S.
and Russia represents a serious distraction from
America’s infinitely more important and urgent
problems elsewhere, including Iraq, Iran,
Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
the rise of China, and the deterioration of U.S.
influence in Latin America. At worst, this
tension could lead to Russia arming Iran, joining
global energy cartels to put pressure on the
West, and inflicting on Washington geopolitical
humiliation on the territory of the former Soviet
Union. This would occur if the U.S. agreed to
defend Ukraine and Georgia as part of NATO and
then proved unwilling or unable to defend them when Russia attacked.
For while Russia cannot remotely match America’s
global power, we should remember the key lesson
of Iraq: all real powerthat is, power that can
be applied to a particular place and issueis in
the end, local. Russia may no longer be a global
superpower, but it is certainly a great power
when it comes to Ukraine, Belarus, and the Caucasus.
And in contrast to the launching of the Cold War,
for the U.S. to take these risks is not remotely
justified by vital American interests. In the
late 1940s, the Soviet Union was the heartland of
a revolutionary ideology that threatened to
suppress free-market democracy, freedom, and
religion across the world and, by dominating
Western Europe and East Asia and fomenting
revolution in Latin America, to pin the U.S.
within its own borders, surround it, and eventually stifle it.
Today’s Russia is like many U.S. allies past and
present: a corrupt, state-influenced market
economy with a partly democratic, partly
authoritarian system. Russia has no global agenda
of ideological or geopolitical domination but
mainly wants to exert predominant influence (but
not imperial control) within the territory of the
former Soviet Union and the centuries-old Russian
empire. Moves by the state to dominate the oil
and gas sector are unwelcome to Americans but
entirely in line with world practice outside the
U.S. and U.K. Russian corruption is extremely
serious, but on the other hand, the fiscal
restraint of the Putin administration holds
lessons for the present U.S. administration, not
the other way around. Like India, Turkey, and
many other democratic states, Russia has used
brutal means to suppress a separatist rebellion.
Like Turkey for several decades when it was a
member of NATO, Russia combines an increasingly
independent judiciary and respect for the rule of
law with selective repression (both formal and
covert) against individuals seen as threats to
the state or the ruling elite. The media scene is
rather like India until the 1980sa combination
of state domination of television with a free and
vocal, but much less influential, print media.
Above all, when it comes to the main lines of its
foreign and domestic policy, the Putin
administration has the support of the vast
majority of ordinary Russians, while the Russian
pro-Western liberals we choose to call
“democrats” are supported by a tiny
minoritymostly because of their association with
the disastrous “reforms” of the 1990s. Thus, far
from rallying democratic support in Russia,
American attacks on Putin in the name of
democracy only foment the anger of ordinary
Russians against the United States. It does not
help when criticism of Russia’s record on
democracy and freedom comes from that notorious
defender of human rights Dick Cheney or when
these statements are immediately followed by warm
and public American embraces of even more
notorious ex-Soviet democrats like President
Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.
Russia today is by no means a pretty picture, but
to compare it in terms of repression and state
control with the Soviet Unionor indeed with
contemporary Chinais grotesque. We should
remember that as late as the summer of 1989, a
Soviet leader who envisioned Russia as it now
exists would have been received with incredulous
joy by the West as representing a future beyond
our most optimistic dreams. And at that time a
Western policymaker who advocated such
megalomaniacal, horribly dangerous projects as
drawing Ukraine and Georgia into an anti-Russian
military alliance, and taking responsibility for
their security, would have been regarded as completely insane.
On two recent occasions, I have assumed that U.S.
hostility to Russia, and anti-Russian U.S.
geopolitical agendas, would largely evaporate.
The first time was immediately after 9/11, when
the extent of the murderous threat of Islamist
extremism to the U.S. was fully revealed. It
seemed self-evident that the American political
elites would automatically reconsider their
attitude toward Russia. After all, since the end
of the Cold War, Russia had not been responsible
for the death of a single American or threatened
a single truly vital American interest and had
itself suffered terribly from Islamist terrorism.
The second time was in the wake of the U.S.
invasion of Iraq as the extent of the debacle
there, and of America’s military overstretch,
became fully apparent. Once again, it seemed that
U.S. policymakers would instinctively wish to
reduce their military commitments accordingly or
at the very least not seek to undertake any new
onesespecially given the rise of Chinese
military power, and the threat to Taiwan, in the Far East.
As we know, things have not turned out that way.
Instead, hostility to Russia in the Bush
administration, both parties in Congress, and the
American media has only grown. So too have
American ambitions vis-à-vis Russia. Last year,
the administration, with the full support of the
Democrats, was pushing an offer of a NATO
membership action plan for Ukraine at NATO’s
summit in Riga, in the face of private Russian
threats of drastic retaliation including a
massive program of arming Iran against the U.S.
The case of Ukraine and NATO is worth considering
as a prime example of the deep irrationality
affecting U.S. policy in the former Soviet Union.
For it is not just a question of Ukrainian NATO
membership infuriating Russia, real though that
threat isand understandable. After all, the
Russians have lost far more men fighting in
Ukraine in various wars than have died in all of
America’s wars put together, and the Russian flag
was flying over the naval port of Sevastopol
before the United States was even created. Even
more important are two more facts almost never
mentioned in the American debate on this
subjectif one can call it a debate. The first is
that according to every reliable opinion poll,
the great majority of Ukrainians do not even want
NATO membership. They are convinced that far from
bringing Ukraine greater security, inclusion in
the alliance would lead to fierce internal
divisions and potentially even split up their
country, as well as vastly increase the threat from Russia.
Leaving aside the deep historical and cultural
ties between much of Ukraine and Russia,
Ukrainians are well aware of how economically
dependent their country is on Russia and how
little by comparison the West has done to help
them. Until it was reduced at the start of 2006,
Russia’s annual gas subsidy to Ukraine was worth
more than four times as much (between $3 and $5
billion dollars) as the whole of U.S. aid to
Ukraine in the five years since 2000 (less than
$800 million). Millions of Ukrainians work
legally in Russia and send their families
remittances, which contribute immensely to the
Ukrainian economy. By contrast, only a handful of
Ukrainians receive work visas for the U.S. and the European Union.
The second fact is that if Ukraine does become a
member of NATO, the U.S. cannot defend it. Given
American commitments in the Middle East, where is
Washington to find another army with which to
defend Ukraine? Would any American administration
be prepared to re-introduce the draft in order to
defend Ukraine? If it did, would any Congress
agree? And even if one can imagine this happening
in some parallel geopolitical universe, is there
any chance that American troops would be used to
shoot demonstrators in eastern and southern
Ukraine calling for their regions to break away
from Ukraine in order to remain allied with Russia?
This entire plan for Ukrainian NATO membership
violates one of the most fundamental rules of
strategy: never make an important, visible
commitment that you already know you will not be
able to keep in a crisis but from which you
cannot withdraw without terrible humiliation.
Above all, don’t do this if your move is actually
going to increase the threat of crisis. To make
false promises of this kind is not only deeply
reckless, it is also deeply unethical.
The Bush administration knew that if it had
offered to suspend the extension of NATO
membership, Russia would in return have become
much more helpful in stopping Iran’s nuclear
program. Yet it was not opposition in Washington
that led to the Ukrainian “Membership Action
Plan” being shelved last year, for there was
almost none. Only the collapse of the pro-Western
“Orange” coalition that took power in Ukraine in
2004, and the return to the premiership of the
pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych, led to this
project being suspended. As a result, the U.S.
has infuriated Russia while gaining precisely nothing from the whole
All this was well known to experts on the former
Soviet Union and to many American officials, and
many of them were willing to admit as much in
private. Why then did they not speak out against
it? Why was there almost no public opposition to
further NATO expansion in Washington?
The behavior of America’s political and media
elites with regard to Russia shows some of the
same mixture of fanaticism and cowardice that
afflicts the U.S. “debate” on the Middle East.
Powerful elements are obsessed with particular
loyalties and hatreds. Others, with no particular
axes to grind but passionately concerned with
their own careers, are cowed into silence by the prevailing atmosphere.
This combination was seen in last year’s Council
on Foreign Relations report on Russia, several of
whose signatories would almost certainly not have
put their names on this arrogant and insulting
document if they had not felt intimidated by
their superiors and the general Beltway mood. In
the case of the non-debate on NATO membership of
Ukraine, once the leaders of both the Republicans
and Democrats had committed themselves to this,
no Washington expert who hoped for a job in the
next administrationi.e. most of them was going
to raise his or her voice in protest. This is the
way that most of the Washington think-tank world works.
This leads to the question of why the general
U.S. mood toward Russia is so bad, especially
when contrasted with attitudes toward China, a
much more authoritarian state and a much more
threatening future rival. Part of the reason is
obviously the Cold War, in which the Soviet
Unionnot Russia, but too many people in the West
never made the distinctionwas the principal
enemy. Out of the Cold War came the particular
influence in Washington of Polish, Baltic, and
West Ukrainian lobbies, with ethnic hatreds of
Russia that long predate their countries’
subjection to Soviet Communism. And unlike the
case of China, the influence of these lobbies is
not balanced by a powerful business and financial
lobby with massive investments in Russia and
therefore a major stake in good relations between Russia and the U.S.
Finally, there seems to be a particular hatred of
Russia on the part of many members of the
Washington elite because long before the Iraq
disaster, Russia “betrayed the magic,” the set of
beliefs forming the ideological basis of
America’s global empire since the end of the Cold
War and used to justify the costs of that empire
to the U.S. public. Put starkly, “the magic” is a
completely irrational set of assumptions, at the
center of which is the idea that America
represents and leads the spread of Freedom and
Democracy around the world and that nascent
democracies will automatically follow its lead
both politically and economically, if necessary
sacrificing their own national interests in the
process. It only seemed for a while to have some
empirical basis because this mixture did work in
former Communist Eastern Europe. But that of
course was only because nationalism in these
countries was utterly committed to escaping the
hated domination of Moscow and because the
European Union did the heavy lifting in terms of
economic aid and institutional transformation.
This mixture does not work anywhere elsenot in
Latin America, not in the Muslim world, and most probably not in China.
In all these places, growing democracy is
associated with growing nationalism (or, in
Muslim countries, a mixture of this with
religious radicalism) and therefore with
hostility to the United States. In the case of
Russia, it was always quite crazy to think that
the Russian public would willingly accept the
replacement of Russia by the U.S. as the
predominant power in the former Soviet Union, any
more than the American public would ever accept
the loss of predominant influence in Central America and the Caribbean.
The reaction of Russian society against this
American ambition was all the more fierce because
radical free-market economic change in the 1990s
proved utterly disastrous for ordinary Russians,
plunging tens of millions into deep poverty and
driving millions to an early death. Ordinary
Russians’ association of these changes with
Western influence was not wholly fair, as the
most rapacious and ruthless aspects of the
process were the work of the new Russian elites
themselves. Nonetheless, the elites justified
their actions in the name of “westernization,”
and the proceeds of Russia’s 1990s kleptocracy
were to a great extent transferred to Western
bank accounts, Western real estate, and Western
luxury goods. So the hostile reaction of ordinary
Russians is also quite understandable.
In fact, we should be very glad that the Putin
administration is as pragmatic as it is in its
international policy and as relatively
law-abiding at home. During the 1990s, given what
was happening to both Russian living standards
and Russian national power and prestige, I and
many other Western observers in Russia feared an
eruption of outright fascism, with catastrophic
results for Russia and the world.
This is one reason that present U.S. attacks on
the Putin administration are so over the top. The
other is that the post-Cold war era should have
begun with a presumption of Russia’s innocence on
the part of the West. After all, two years before
it collapsed the Soviet Union had already
withdrawn peacefully from Eastern Europe on the
informal promise that these countries would not
be incorporated into NATO. This withdrawal
removed the original casus belli of the Cold War
between the Soviet Union and the West, which
began not because of anything that the Soviet
state was doing within its own borders but
because of its domination of European states
beyond its borders in ways that were clearly
menacing to Western Europe and vital American interests there.
Moreover, all the repressions and conflicts that
accompanied and followed the fall of the Soviet
Union put together pale next to those that
attended the end of the French and British
empires, both of them ruled at the time by
Western democracies. One forgotten French
campaign in Madagascar alone was estimated by the
French military to have cost 89,000 dead, the
vast majority civilians. The British suppression
of a minor rebellion in Kenya may have cost up to
100,000 lives according to two recent British studies.
Millions more died in Indochina, Algeria, Africa,
and the Indian subcontinent as a result of
colonial wars or post-colonial civil wars and
ethnic cleansing. And with the exception of
Algeria, the British and French wars to preserve
their empires, like the U.S. wars in the Muslim
world today, took place thousands of miles from
the shores of Britain and France. The Chechen
wars have taken place on Russia’s own sovereign
territory. The valid parallel is not Iraq but
past U.S. campaigns against the Native Americans in North America
Before the Soviet Union collapsed, most Western
observers confidently predicted that the Soviet
establishment and the Russian people would fight
to the death rather than allow Ukraine and other
areas to become independent. Nothing of the sort
occurred. In Kazakhstan, more than 10 million
Russians were incorporated in the independent
state of Kazakhstan without a single act of
violent protest or armed intervention by Moscow.
But instead of this leading to Russia beginning
the post-Cold War period with a presumption of
innocence in the West, from the day that the
Soviet Union collapsedand while Soviet troops
were still withdrawing from eastern Europe and
the Baltic statesprominent voices in the West
simply continued previous rhetorical lines about
how both the former Soviet Union and post-Soviet
Russia embodied permanent Russian drives toward empire and aggression.
Thus George Will declared in 1996, “Expansionism
is in the Russians’ DNA,” and Peter Rodman stated
in 1994, “The only potential great-power security
problem in Central Europe is the lengthening
shadow of Russian strength, and NATO has the job
of counter-balancing it. Russia is a force of
nature; all this is inevitable.” This was despite
the fact that since the end of the Soviet Union
no leading Russian figure, with the exception of
the clownish Zhirinovsky, had expressed the
slightest desire to dominate Central Europeans.
On the contrary, the overwhelming sentiment in
Russia was that past attempts to do so had been a dreadful mistake.
As Nikolas Gvosdev, editor of The National
Interest, has acutely pointed out, a critical
problem in relations between Russia and the U.S.
since the fall of the Soviet Union has been that
Americans have interpreted that collapse, and the
Russian withdrawal from empire, as a straight
Russian defeat and U.S. victory akin to the
American victory over Germany and Japan in 1945.
Russians, on the other hand, have always seen it
as a deal in which they gave up enormous
territories and influence in return for promises
of Western partnership and massive economic
assistance, neither of which was forthcoming.
In the eyes of Russians, their withdrawal from
anti-American strategies in Central America,
Africa, and elsewhere was predicated on an
assumption that the U.S. and its allies would not
seek to destroy their interests in the former
Soviet Union. As a former Soviet officer once put
it to me, “If we had known what you had in store
for us, do you really think that we would have
let the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc fall to
pieces in the way that they did? We would have
fought to the death to hold on to them, and you
would have had another world war on your hands.”
Present U.S.-Russian hostility won’t result in a
world war, but the consequences could still be
bad enough, especially when it comes to American
interestsand American livesin the Middle East.
The U.S. political establishment therefore needs
to do two things when it comes to formulating
policy toward Russia. The first is to remove
emotional attitudes deriving from the Cold War
and instead approach Russia in the same spirit of
pragmatism that the U.S. addresses China. The
second is to think hard and clearly about what
are truly America’s most important interests with
regard to Russia and what are secondary or minor interests.
A truly objective analysis along these lines
would lead to an identification of the following
four vital American interests vis-à-vis Russia,
the ones to which the U.S. would devote real effort.
First, to keep Russian weapons and materials of
mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists
and to persuade Russia to prevent potentially
dangerous countries like Iran from acquiring such
weapons. This means, among other things, much
stronger support and funding for the Nunn-Lugar
program, designed to enhance the security of
Russian nuclear, chemical, and biological sites.
Second, together with Russia, to help prevent
Islamist revolution and the creation of safe
havens for Islamist terrorists in the Muslim
regions of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Third, to preserve reasonably open international
access to the energy reserves of Central Asia and
the Caucasus. This requires not just new
pipelines but also improved relations with both Russia and Iran.
Fourth, to prevent any outbreak of major new
conflict within or between states in the region,
with all the suffering that this would involve
for the peoples concerned and all the disruptive
effects this would have on the world economy and
on international stability. This means the U.S.
strongly opposing any Russian military
intervention in Ukraine and Georgia but also
refraining from trying to draw them into an
anti-Russian military bloc, as both these moves
are likely to lead to regional conflict.
In other words, the U.S. needs to develop a
strategy toward Russia tailored to real American
interests and real American strength. Surely the
country that produced George Marshall, Dean
Acheson, and Dwight Eisenhower must still be
capable, somewhere in its being, of this kind of strategic wisdom?
See also "Putin's Gangster State",
by Garry Kasparov, WSJ Friday, March 30, 2007, Opinion, pA15.
TUESDAY, March 27,
- The Today Show on NBC is generally our
introduction to the "new day". Today's offerings included: a
"debate" on the possible outcomes if the U.S. were to withdraw from
Iraq anytime soon, as demanded by the Democrats, including yet another
pronouncement from a retired and tired general; the story of
a totally mis-guided dog owner who subjected her cancer - afflicted pet
to a leg amputation and prolonged chemotherapy...for what?; yet another
instance of Parental Mal-Practice, this time manifesting as a
stupid teenager who almost died playing the "choking game". Out
of desperation, we changed channels to CBS, where we were uplifted by
an interview with Andrea Yeager, she of former tennis prowess, who
heard the call from God and who is now a Catholic nun. What a
refreshing change from the detritus with which we are bombarded daily
by the news media.
- On a related subject, we see and hear Elizabeth Edwards, Tony
Snow and Cheryl Crowe, all victims of serious cancers,
expressing themselves in various degrees of spirituality. This is
the topic of a sensitive article by Cal Thomas entitled "Snow's
Fight And His Surrender" (in The Day Thursday, March 29,
2007, Commentary, pA11). Folks, we can wait for our "cancer"; or
we can realize and express...right now: "I Love You.
I Trust You. Thy Will Be Done. I Am Yours".
- Economics, "the dismal science", has always been
part of our lives, whether we know it or not. But never more so
than today, not only for our children and grandchildren, but for
ourselves in the coming years. Remember October 1929? Our
parents and grandparents had very little warning then also. Thus,
the following articles should be read and their messages followed by us
of this effluent society.
1) "Pain From Free Trade Spurs
Second Thoughts, by David Wessel and Bob Davis, WSJ Wednesday,
March 29, 2007, pA1.
2) "The Tort Tax", by
McQuillan and Abramyan, WSJ Tuesday, March 27, 2007, Opinion, pA18.
3) "Our Atomic Future", by
William Tucker, WSJ Wednesday, March 28, 2007, Opinion, pA16.
4) "New Climate Report Warns Of
Widespread Starvation", by Seth Borenstein, The Day Sunday, March
11, 2007, World, pA2.
- The Arab Summit in Riyadh, which concludes
today, should not be dismissed as another face-saving exercise so
important to leaders in the Mid-East. The subject matter and the
participants, including unusually active involvement by King Abdullah
of Saudi Arabia, should signal its importance to all of us mired in
that part of the world. Some of the positions expressed may be
irritating; but they must be dealt with through serious diplomatic
engagement. Remember: Teddy Roosevelt admonished America to "Speak
softly and carry a big stick"...not merely to carry a big
stick. This is totally different from the Neville Chamberlain
brand of "diplomacy", involving talking forever until delusion sets
in...an approach that Democrats always seem to be inclined to.
MONDAY, March 26,
Russia is certainly in play again.
The National Interest
March 2007 - April 2007
Don't Lose Russia
By Gary Hart
Gary Hart is the Wirth Chair at the University of
Colorado at Denver. He is also a former U.S. senator.
Letter to Democrats
THIS LETTER is an appeal to Democrats, now a
congressional majority, to propose a ore
positive, constructive relationship between the
United States and Russia-less for Russia than for the United States.
At virtually any point between 1947 and 1991, if
any serious thinker had proposed that we could
form a strategic relationship with Russia but
should refuse to do so, he or she would have been
considered misguided at best and slightly
deranged at worst. Yet that has happened today.
The mystery is this: What forces are at work to
demonize Russia, to isolate and alienate it from
the West and to treat it as an enemy?
Few would dispute that Russia has become
increasingly imperious and autocratic, though
almost always in internal affairs and neighboring
states. Vladimir Putin has re-centralized power.
Only history can determine, however, whether this
is a reaction to Western, especially American,
actions or whether it reflects the Russian
character. But undoubtedly a chicken-egg syndrome
exists: The more U.S. actions isolate the
Russians, the more Moscow seeks to recapture its
independent great-power status.
In recent months two developments on the U.S.
side stand out. First is the policy of the Bush
Administration, largely promoted by Vice
President Richard Cheney, to adopt a
confrontational stance toward Russia. Cheney,
among others, has advocated using NATO as an
anti-Russian military alliance. He and others
have also proposed overt support to Putin's domestic political
Second, more surprisingly, is an unreflective
reaction among foreign policy elites,
particularly the Council on Foreign Relations
("Russia's Wrong Direction", March 2006), to
endorse this policy. The CFR report's executive
summary might as well have read: "The poor state
of the U.S.-Russia relationship is entirely the
fault of the Russians, who refuse to conduct
their domestic affairs as we insist they should.
We should hold the Russians to a uniquely high
standard, though we refuse to say why."
Still, no argument is given to justify this
animosity. Whatever the reason-lingering
nostalgia for the Cold War's relative clarity,
desire for a tangible nation-state opponent in a
world of stateless terrorism-it should be set
forth. The best the CFR can do is decry the
various failures of the Russians to meet liberal
democratic standards. Those standards apply uniquely to the Russians.
Numerous Russia experts, including Stephen Cohen
at New York University, Anatol Lieven at the New
America Foundation and Graham Allison at
Harvard's Kennedy School, have challenged what
they perceive as a concerted effort to alienate
Russia from the West. It would astonish any
objective observer that the Jackson-Vanik
Amendment, a 1974 measure denying most favored
nation trading status (now called normal trade
relations) to Russia as leverage to liberate
dissidents and refuseniks, is still official U.S.
policy. Its repeal would represent an excellent
beginning point in putting U.S.-Russian relations on a more productive
"What interests, if any, do we have in common?"
should be our first question. There are several.
First, we have an ongoing interest in reducing
nuclear arsenals. Thanks to the persistent
efforts of former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) and
Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), and despite
resistance by the Bush Administration, we
continue working to dramatically reduce both
sides' nuclear warhead and delivery system
stockpiles. A serious argument against this project has yet to surface.
Second, we have a mutual interest in defeating
terrorism. The Russians have conducted prolonged
military actions in Chechnya, and the United
States has conducted equally prolonged military
occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. There are
clear differences in methodology, with the
Russians using much more brutal means, but the
residents of Grozny and of Fallujah might not see
that. Though opposing our invasion of Iraq, the
Russians fully endorsed our invasion of
Afghanistan (where they themselves had a rather
unpleasant experience). If we are not fully
exploiting Russian intelligence networks in
pursuit of this common interest, it is to our detriment.
Third, there is the matter of oil. During the
first Clinton Administration, I urged our
government to negotiate long-term oil purchase
agreements with the Russians to help reduce our
dependence on dangerously unstable Persian Gulf
sources. It is not too late for that. The
Russians need massive Western investment in oil
production facilities, and the United States and
its European allies need predictable oil
supplies. High-level diplomatic and commercial
engagement with the Russians can prevent
destructive Russian tendencies to nationalize oil
production facilities. There is no reason we
cannot replicate our decades-long arrangements,
such as those with the Saudis, in Russia, but
this will require stable, friendly relations.
Fourth, we have high technology, and the Russians
need it, particularly in telecommunications,
health care and industrial modernization. A
decade of experience modernizing Russia's
telecommunication system convinces me of two
things: 21st-century communications technology is
key to Russia's emerging economy, and Russian
science, though inadequately equipped, has much
to offer the West and global markets. Russia
represents a huge potential market for U.S.
technology companies-its health care system is
abysmal for most Russians-and U.S. companies
should be encouraged to explore those markets.
Fifth, Russia is neighbor to several Islamic
states, former Soviet republics-whether one
subscribes to a Huntingtonian thesis of
civilization clashes or merely believes in
civilization frictions, Russia occupies an
unrivaled strategic position. Further, it
occupies a strategic position in northeast Asia,
particularly with regard to North Korea and
China. As the noted Russia expert Dimitri Simes
has repeatedly pointed out, Russia's geostrategic
location places it in a unique position to exert
influence on critical matters such as Iran's
nuclear ambitions. An alliance with Russia is in our interest.
This list of shared interests is far from
exhaustive, and several principles should guide a
constructive bilateral relationship. Mutual
self-interest, not altruism, is one. A working
relationship is not a favor to the Russians but
an advantage to us. Russia is by history and
culture a Western nation and should be integrated
into the West. The United States and Russia share
security interests and concerns. An isolated,
anti-democratic Russia increases our insecurity.
Russia's development as a market democracy will
best be achieved by engagement, not rejection.
Until recent years, when U.S. foreign policy
assumed a theological aura, we consistently
sought self-interested relations with
disagreeable nations. The late Jeane Kirkpatrick
is notable for distinguishing authoritarian
states, with whom we could collaborate, from
totalitarian states with which we could have
nothing to do. Even today, despite strong
emphasis on good and evil, we maintain productive
relations with states no less authoritarian than
Russia (including former Soviet republics).
Also, to expect Russian subservience to its chief
Cold War rival is to misunderstand Russian
history, culture and character. At few points in
U.S. history, prior to the end of the Cold War,
have we adopted the imperious attitude toward
other nations that we have in the 21st century.
Not coincidentally, this arrogance arrived with a
neo-imperialist project that has overtaken our foreign policy.
Few nations rival Russia in nationalist
sentiment. Though younger Russians with income
are internationalist and cosmopolitan, outside
Moscow and among older generations "Mother
Russia" is still a palpable phenomenon. Dictation
of domestic behavior and performance, especially
by the United States, is a sure prescription for
popular resistance. In most cases, the issue is
not what is preferable, best and right, but who
is dictating it. U.S. policymakers, including
Democratic congressional majorities, must not
treat the Russians as schoolchildren.
Twenty-first-century realities require we get all
the help we can. These realities include WMD
proliferation, terrorism, failed and failing
states, tribalism, ethnic nationalism, religious
fundamentalism, the decline of nation-state
sovereignty, integrating markets, climate change
and the threat of pandemics. One nation alone
cannot solve these problems. It is not in
America's national interest, and particularly its
security interests, to go it alone or rely on
"coalitions of the willing" composed of minor powers rallied in
On the U.S. Commission on National Security for
the 21st Century, my fellow commissioners and I
agreed unanimously that three regional powers are
critical to future world stability. These were
China, India and Russia. We urged the new Bush
Administration in early 2001, and thereafter, to
expand ties to these nations, contribute more to
regional stability and encourage economic and
political leadership. No systematic effort has
been made to implement these recommendations; in
the case of Russia the opposite has occurred.
In a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece, "A
Nuclear-Free World", former Secretary of State
George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense
William Perry, former Secretary of State Henry
Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn set forth
an ambitious agenda to eliminate nuclear weapons.
This is impossible absent Russian cooperation,
which will be easier to engage if relations are positive and productive.
Congress does not make foreign policy. The
congressional party, particularly in opposition,
is hamstrung if the executive branch shuts it out
from offering advice and consent. But Congress
can educate the American people on the importance
of a constructive relationship with Russia. That is what I advocate
Administration officials should develop a
positive U.S.-Russian relationship or, if they
refuse, defend that position. In recent years
this has not happened. The 110th Congress should
undertake this project. The United States does
not have the luxury of creating unnecessary
conflicts. We have enough to deal with as it is.
It is not in our interest to demonize and isolate
Russia; it is in our interest to integrate it into the West.
SUNDAY, March 25,
- A little more on the embarrassment that 84% of the
eligible voters in New London, Ct. subjected the city
to in the recent referendum. Chris Powell of the Journal
Enquirer put it this way in an article on the troubles facing print
media (in The Day Saturday, March 24, Commentary, pA7): "Though New
London recently was the center of the national controversy over eminent
domain, only about 16% of the adult population seems to care about city
government, despite the encouragement and assistance of an excellent
newspaper. The lessons here seem to be that good journalism
increasingly is charity, and that if you want a better public life, you
have to get a better public". Precisely.
- The medical use of marijuana is again in the
news. Many States permit it, only to be preempted by the
prohibition of Federal law. There is no question that marijuana
is a dangerous and addictive drug, often an entry-level path into
a life of addiction to other and worse addictive drugs. There is
also no question that it benefits the otherwise intractible symptoms of
a number of severe chronic diseases. What to do? The
current situation is impossible, similar to the government's abdication
of responsibility for solving the immigration issue. To merely
change marijuana from Category 1 to Category 2 would open its use to
too much abuse, with or without prescriptions. There must be an
extra level of certification inserted into the process to enable its
appropriate use while avoiding rampant abuse. This challenge is
not Star Wars". It can be solved, if the Federal government wants
to address it. Meanwhile, the existing situation merely fosters
law-breaking and unnecessary pain and suffering. We can and
must do better.
- Attorney General Gonzales. If if can be
proven that he lied to Congress in this matter, he must resign.
It would be yet another example of a coverup being worse than the
underlying action. Washington DC is famous for that.
- Until I read today's NYTimes article (pA1), my regard for Senator
Edwards had tanked after he announced his continued run for
the Democratic Presidential nomination...leaving a dying wife at
home. But her comments in that article make all the
difference. Her hope for her future is always what it's all
about and what counts most in such situations. Our hopes and
prayers for you, Mrs. Edwards.
- "The Troubles" in Ireland continue. It
reminds me of a term I coined for that "peculiar institution" that the
South fought for and seemingly continues to revere in its attachment to
the Confederate flag: "Focal idiopathic idiocy".
- Former Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is the subject
of a new book: Rumsfeld. His Rise, Fall, and
Catastrophic Legacy", by Andrew Cockburn. He is fully
deserving of that attention.
- When taking a trip, including the one through life, and in the
absence of GPS or On-Star, it's a good idea to know at all times where True
North lies. That does not restrict our freedom to travel
wherever we wish; but it avoids the comment "We're lost, but we're
making good time". One source of True North continues to be
the Papacy, now in the form of Pope Benedict XVl.
The article appended below reflects his efforts to provide that
direction in order to inform our "trip". And such a compass would
do much to inform the good people who contributed to a recent forum
held in New London to address "Youths and Violence" (see The
Day today, Perspective, Sec. E). Each perspective is true, just
as each perspective of the blind men examining a different part of the
elephant was true. But even here there is a True North, best
expressed today in the offerings by Joan Discordia and Quanita Jones:
the irreplaceable role of family in child-rearing, and the destructive
influence of parental mal-practice. As in disease, that's the
difference between "cause" and "substantial contributing factor"...an
important distinction to draw when deciding upon a plan of
treatment. Society needs to get its compass back. GS
ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome
Bishops Note Errors in Daniel Maguire's Works
Publish Statement on Marquette University Professor
WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. episcopal
Committee on Doctrine has published a statement declaring that the
published by a Marquette University professor "do not present authentic
The view presented in Daniel Maguire's two pamphlets on abortion,
same-sex marriage "cross the legitimate lines of theological reflection
enter into the area of false teaching," the bishops' statement
They added: "Since it is apparent that considerable efforts have been
made to give
these views the widest possible distribution as if they were a valid
the teaching of the Catholic Church, the Committee on Doctrine ?
important to offer a public correction of the erroneous views proposed
The committee explained that Maguire's fundamental error regards the
The professor declares that "there is no authentic Church teaching that
on all members of the Catholic Church," and says that within the Church
both a pro-choice and pro-life tradition, and that "neither is more
The committee notes that the archbishop of Milwaukee (where Marquette
located) has also made public statements affirming that Maguire's
pamphlets do not
present Catholic teaching.
The committee concurs that "despite his claims to authority as a
theologian, the views of Professor Maguire on contraception, abortion,
'marriage' are not those of the Catholic Church and indeed are contrary
SATURDAY, March 24,
- The U.S. Attorney flap. The Democrats
continue to prefer posturing and screaming (and some
Republicans cowering) to a business-like approach to this
investigation, which clearly raises the issue of "Executive
Privilege". Do they really expect this administration to climb
the Capitol steps with a list of "Mea Culpas"? The only driving force
behind Democrats during the last few years, despite all the nation's
problems crying for resolution, has been the desire to "pin the tail on
the elephant". What a waste. But it does reflect the
impatience and inattention of a substantial part of the American
populace in its race to the bottom.
- As reflected in the actions of the then-Republican majority
during the last two years, for which they rightly lost control of our
Federal legislature, they are no better. And
now, they are producing a spectacle for the 2008 Presidential
nominating convention. As I noted in a recent offering
in this section, the Conservative base is facing reality - and it
doesn't like it one bit. Politics has been called "the art
of the possible". But they would rather denigrate
Senator John McCain, their strongest candidate, both directly and by
falsely pumping up Rudolph Guliani. See "A One-Man Civil War",
by Matthew Continetti, in a recent WSJ article. Now comes former
Senator Fred Thompson thinking about entering the race. Not
a bad move, for him and for us. See "Lights,
Camera...Candidacy?" by John Fund, WSJ Weekend, March 17-18,
Opinion, pA9. But the entire enterprise, including the election,
will be doomed to failure if the fundamentalist - conservative Right
does not mature in time to realize that democracy involves
grass-roots growth and not "command-and control". This is not
FRIDAY, March 20 through 23,
AEI Annual Dinner, Irving Kristol
Publication Date: March 7, 2007
Bernard Lewis is the recipient of AEI's Irving Kristol Award for 2007.
Thank you, Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, ladies and gentlemen. As
you have been told, I have studied a number of languages, but I cannot
find words in any of them adequate to express my feeling of gratitude
for the honor and appreciation which I have been shown this evening.
All I can say is thank you.
My topic this evening is Europe and Islam. But let me begin with a
word of personal explanation. You are accustomed for the most part to
hearing from people with direct practical involvement in military and
intelligence matters. I cannot offer you that. My direct involvement
with military and intelligence matters ended quite a long time ago--to
be precise, on 31 August 1945, when I left His Majesty's Service and
returned to the university to join with colleagues in trying to cope
with a six-year backlog of battle-scarred undergraduates.
What I would like to try and offer you this evening is something of
the lessons of history. Here I must begin with a second disavowal. It
is sometimes forgotten that the content of history, the business of
the historian, is the past, not the future. I remember being at an
international meeting of historians in Rome during which a group of us
were sitting and discussing the question: should historians attempt to
predict the future? We batted this back and forth. This was in the
days when the Soviet Union was still alive and well. One of our Soviet
colleagues finally intervened and said, "In the Soviet Union, the most
difficult task of the historian is to predict the past."
I do not intend to offer any predictions of the future in Europe or
the Middle East, but one thing can legitimately be expected of the
historian, and that is to identify trends and processes - to look at
the trends in the past, at what is continuing in the present, and
therefore to see the possibilities and choices which will face us in
One other introductory word. A favorite theme of the historian, as I
am sure you know, is periodization--dividing history into periods.
Periodization is mostly a convenience of the historian for purposes of
writing or teaching. Nevertheless, there are times in the long history
of the human adventure when we have a real turning point, a major
change--the end of an era, the beginning of a new era. I am becoming
more and more convinced that we are in such an age at the present
time--a change in history comparable with such events as the fall of
Rome, the discovery of America, and the like. I will try to explain
Conventionally, the modern history of the Middle East begins at the
end of the 18th century, when a small French expeditionary force
commanded by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte was able to
conquer Egypt and rule it with impunity. It was a terrible shock that
one of the heartlands of Islam could be invaded, occupied, and ruled
with virtually no effective resistance.
The second shock came a few years later with the departure of the
French, which was brought about not by the Egyptians nor by their
suzerains, the Turks, but by a small squadron of the Royal Navy
commanded by a young admiral called Horatio Nelson, who drove the
French out and back to France.
This is of symbolic importance. That was, as I said, at the end of the
18th and the beginning of the 19th century. From then onward, the
heartlands of Islam were no longer wholly controlled by the rulers of
Islam. They were under direct or indirect influence or control from
The dominating forces in the Islamic world were now outside forces.
What shaped their lives was Western influence. What gave them choices
was Western rivalries. The political game that they could play--the
only one that was open to them--was to try and profit from the
rivalries between the outside powers, to try to use them against one
another. We see that again and again in the course of the 19th and
20th and even into the beginning of the 21st century. We see, for
example, in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Cold
War, how Middle Eastern governments or leaders tried to play this game
with varying degrees of success.
That game is now over. The era that was inaugurated by Napoleon and
Nelson was terminated by Reagan and Gorbachev. The Middle East is no
longer ruled or dominated by outside powers. These nations are having
some difficulty adjusting to this new situation, to taking
responsibility for their own actions and their consequences, and so
on. But they are beginning to do so, and this change has been
expressed with his usual clarity and eloquence by Osama bin Laden.
We see with the ending of the era of outside domination, the
reemergence of certain older trends and deeper currents in Middle
Eastern history, which had been submerged or at least obscured during
the centuries of Western domination. Now they are coming back again.
One of them I would call the internal struggles--ethnic, sectarian,
regional--between different forces within the Middle East. These have
of course continued, but were of less importance in the imperialist
era. They are coming out again now and gaining force, as we see for
example from the current clash between Sunni and Shia Islam--something
without precedent for centuries.
The other thing more directly relevant to my theme this evening is the
signs of a return among Muslims to what they perceive as the cosmic
struggle for world domination between the two main
faiths--Christianity and Islam. There are many religions in the world,
but as far as I know there are only two that have claimed that their
truths are not only universal--all religions claim that--but also
exclusive; that they--the Christians in the one case, the Muslims in
the other--are the fortunate recipients of God's final message to
humanity, which it is their duty not to keep selfishly to
themselves--like the Jews or the Hindus--but to bring to the rest of
humanity, removing whatever obstacles there may be on the way. This
self-perception, shared between Christendom and Islam, led to the long
struggle that has been going on for more than fourteen centuries and
which is now entering a new phase. In the Christian world, now at the
beginning of the 21st century of its era, this triumphalist attitude
no longer prevails, and is confined to a few minority groups. In the
world of Islam, now
in its early 15th century, triumphalism is still a significant force,
and has found expression in new militant movements.
It is interesting that both sides for quite a long time refused to
recognize this struggle. For example, both sides named each other by
non-religious terms. The Christian world called the Muslims Moors,
Saracens, Tartars, and Turks. Even a convert was said to have turned
Turk. The Muslims for their part called the Christian world Romans,
Franks, Slavs, and the like. It was only slowly and reluctantly that
they began to give each other religious designations and then these
were for the most part demeaning and inaccurate. In the West, it was
customary to call Muslims Mohammadans, which they never called
themselves, based on the totally false assumption that Muslims worship
Muhammad in the way that Christians worship Christ. The Muslim term
for Christians was Nazarene--nasrani--implying the local cult of a
place called Nazareth.
The declaration of war begins at the very beginning of Islam. There
are certain letters purported to have been written by the Prophet
Muhammad to the Christian Byzantine emperor, the emperor of Persia,
and various other rulers, saying, "I have now brought God's final
message. Your time has passed. Your beliefs are superseded. Accept my
mission and my faith or resign or submit--you are finished." The
authenticity of these prophetic letters is doubted, but the message is
clear and authentic in the sense that it does represent the long
dominant view of the Islamic world.
A little later we have hard evidence--and I mean hard in the most
literal sense--inscriptions. Many of you, I should think, have been to
Jerusalem. You have probably visited that remarkable building, the
Dome of the Rock. It is very significant. It is built on a place
sacred to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Its architectural style is
that of the earliest Christian churches. It dates from the end of the
7th century and was built by one of the early caliphs, the oldest
Muslim religious building outside Arabia. What is significant is the
message in the inscriptions inside the Dome: "He is God, He is one, He
has no companion, He does not beget, He is not begotten." (cf. Qur'an,
IX, 31-3; CXII, 1-3) This is clearly a direct challenge to certain
central principles of the Christian faith.
Interestingly, they put the same thing on a new gold coinage. Until
then, striking gold coins had been an exclusive Roman privilege. The
Islamic caliph for the first time struck gold coins, breaching the
immemorial privilege of Rome, and putting the same inscription on
them. As I said, a challenge.
The Muslim attack on Christendom and the resulting conflict, which
arose more from their resemblances than from their differences, has
gone through three phases. The first dates from the very beginning of
Islam, when the new faith spilled out of the Arabian Peninsula, where
it was born, into the Middle East and beyond. It was then that they
conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa--all at that time
part of the Christian world--and went beyond into Europe, conquering a
sizable part of southwestern Europe, including Spain, Portugal, and
southern Italy, all of which became part of the Islamic world, and
even crossing the Pyrenees into France and occupying for a while parts
After a long and bitter struggle, the Christians managed to retake
part but not all of the territory they had lost. They succeeded in
Europe, and in a sense Europe was defined by the limits of that
success. They failed to retake North Africa or the Middle East, which
were lost to Christendom. Notably, they failed to recapture the Holy
Land, in the series of campaigns known as the Crusades.
That was not the end of the matter. In the meantime the Islamic world,
having failed the first time, was bracing for the second attack, this
time conducted not by Arabs and Moors but by Turks and Tartars. In the
mid-thirteenth century the Mongol conquerors of Russia were converted
to Islam. The Turks, who had already conquered Anatolia, advanced into
Europe and in 1453 they captured the ancient Christian citadel of
Constantinople. They conquered a large part of the Balkans, and for a
while ruled half of Hungary. Twice they reached as far as Vienna, to
which they laid siege in 1529 and again in 1683. Barbary corsairs from
North Africa--well-known to historians of the United States--were
raiding Western Europe. They went to Iceland--the uttermost limit--and
to several places in Western Europe, including notably a raid on
Baltimore (the original one, in Ireland) in 1631. In a contemporary
document, we have a list of 107 captives who were taken from Baltimore
to Algiers, including a man called Cheney.
Again, Europe counterattacked, this time more successfully and more
rapidly. They succeeded in recovering Russia and the Balkan Peninsula,
and in advancing further into the Islamic lands, chasing their former
rulers whence they had come. For this phase of European counterattack,
a new term was invented: imperialism. When the peoples of Asia and
Africa invaded Europe, this was not imperialism. When Europe attacked
Asia and Africa, it was.
This European counterattack began a new phase which brought the
European attack into the very heart of the Middle East. In our own
time, we have seen the end of the resulting domination.
Osama bin Laden, in some very interesting proclamations and
declarations, has this to say about the war in Afghanistan which, you
will remember, led to the defeat and retreat of the Red Army and the
collapse of the Soviet Union. We tend to see that as a Western
victory, more specifically an American victory, in the Cold War
against the Soviets. For Osama bin Laden, it was nothing of the kind.
It is a Muslim victory in a jihad. If one looks at what happened in
Afghanistan and what followed, this is, I think one must say, a not
As Osama bin Laden saw it, Islam had reached the ultimate humiliation
in this long struggle after World War I, when the last of the great
Muslim empires--the Ottoman Empire--was broken up and most of its
territories divided between the victorious allies; when the caliphate
was suppressed and abolished, and the last caliph driven into exile.
This seemed to be the lowest point in Muslim history. From there they
In his perception, the millennial struggle between the true believers
and the unbelievers had gone through successive phases, in which the
latter were led by the various imperial European powers that had
succeeded the Romans in the leadership of the world of the
infidels--the Christian Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the
British and French and Russian empires. In this final phase, he says,
the world of the infidels was divided and disputed between two rival
superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. In his
perception, the Muslims have met, defeated, and destroyed the more
dangerous and the more deadly of the two infidel superpowers. Dealing
with the soft, pampered and effeminate Americans would be an easy
This belief was confirmed in the 1990s when we saw one attack after
another on American bases and installations with virtually no
effective response of any kind--only angry words and expensive
missiles dispatched to remote and uninhabited places. The lessons of
Vietnam and Beirut were confirmed by Mogadishu. "Hit them, and they'll
run." This was the perceived sequence leading up to 9/11. That attack
was clearly intended to be the completion of the first sequence and
the beginning of the new one, taking the war into the heart of the
In the eyes of a fanatical and resolute minority of Muslims, the third
wave of attack on Europe has clearly begun. We should not delude
ourselves as to what it is and what it means. This time it is taking
different forms and two in particular: terror and migration.
The subject of terror has been frequently discussed and in great
detail, and I do not need to say very much about that now. What I do
want to talk about is the other aspect of more particular relevance to
Europe, and that is the question of migration.
In earlier times, it was inconceivable that a Muslim would voluntarily
move to a non-Muslim country. The jurists discuss this subject at
great length in the textbooks and manuals of shari`a, but in a
different form: is it permissible for a Muslim to live in or even
visit a non-Muslim country? And if so, if he does, what must he do?
Generally speaking, this was considered under certain specific
A captive or a prisoner of war obviously has no choice, but he must
preserve his faith and get home as soon as possible.
The second case is that of an unbeliever in the land of the
unbelievers who sees the light and embraces the true faith--in other
words, becomes a Muslim. He must leave as soon as possible and go to a
The third case is that of a visitor. For long, the only purpose that
was considered legitimate was to ransom captives. This was later
expanded into diplomatic and commercial missions. With the advance of
the European counterattack, there was a new issue in this ongoing
debate. What is the position of a Muslim if his country is conquered
by infidels? May he stay or must he leave?
We have some interesting documents from the late 15th century, when
the reconquest of Spain was completed and Moroccan jurists were
discussing this question. They asked if Muslims could stay. The
general answer was no, it is not permissible. The question was asked:
May they stay if the Christian government that takes over is tolerant?
This proved to be a purely hypothetical question, of course. The
answer was no; even then they may not stay, because the temptation to
apostasy would be even greater. They must leave and hope that in God's
good time they will be able to reconquer their homelands and restore
the true faith.
This was the line taken by most jurists. There were some, at first a
minority, later a more important group, who said it is permissible for
Muslims to stay provided that certain conditions are met, mainly that
they are allowed to practice their faith. This raises another question
which I will come back to in a moment: what is meant by practicing
their faith? Here I would remind you that we are dealing not only with
a different religion but also with a different concept of what
religion is about, referring especially to what Muslims call the
shari`a, the holy law of Islam, covering a wide range of matters
regarded as secular in the Christian world even during the medieval
period, but certainly in what some call the post-Christian era of the
There are obviously now many attractions which draw Muslims to Europe
including the opportunities offered, particularly in view of the
growing economic impoverishment of much of the Muslim world, and the
attractions of European welfare as well as employment. They also have
freedom of expression and education which they lack at home. This is a
great incentive to the terrorists who migrate. Terrorists have far
greater freedom of preparation and operation in Europe--and to a
degree also in America--than they do in most Islamic lands.
I would like to draw your attention to some other factors of
importance in the situation at this moment. One is the new radicalism
in the Islamic world, which comes in several kinds: Sunni, especially
Wahhabi, and Iranian Shiite, dating from the Iranian revolution. Both
of these are becoming enormously important factors. We have the
strange paradox that the danger of Islamic radicalism or of radical
terrorism is far greater in Europe and America than it is in the
Middle East and North Africa, where they are much better at
controlling their extremists than we are.
The Sunni kind is mainly Wahhabi and has benefited from the prestige
and influence and power of the House of Saud as controllers of the
holy places of Islam and of the annual pilgrimage, and the enormous
oil wealth at their disposal. The Iranian revolution is something
different. The term revolution is much used in the Middle East. It is
virtually the only generally accepted title of legitimacy. But the
Iranian revolution is a real revolution in the sense in which we use
that term of the French or Russian revolutions. Like the French and
Russian revolutions in their day, it has had an enormous impact in the
whole area with which the Iranians share a common universe of
discourse--that is to say, the Islamic world.
Let me turn to the question of assimilation, which is much discussed
nowadays. How far is it possible for Muslim migrants who have settled
in Europe, in North America, and elsewhere, to become part of those
countries in which they settle, in the way that so many other waves of
immigrants have done? I think there are several points which need to
One of them is the basic differences in what precisely is meant by
assimilation and acceptance. Here there is an immediate and obvious
difference between the European and the American situations. For an
immigrant to become an American means a change of political
allegiance. For an immigrant to become a Frenchman or a German means a
change of ethnic identity. Changing political allegiance is certainly
very much easier and more practical than changing ethnic identity,
either in one's own feelings or in one's measure of acceptance.
England had it both ways. If you were naturalized, you became British
but you did not become English.
I mentioned earlier the important difference in what one means by
religion. For Muslims, it covers a whole range of different
things--marriage, divorce, and inheritance are the most obvious
examples. Since antiquity in the Western world, the Christian world,
these have been secular matters. The distinction of church and state,
spiritual and temporal, lay and ecclesiastical is a Christian
distinction which has no place in Islamic history and therefore is
difficult to explain to Muslims, even in the present day. Until very
recently they did not even have a vocabulary to express it. They have
What are the European responses to this situation? In Europe, as in
the United States, a frequent response is what is variously known as
multiculturalism and political correctness. In the Muslim world there
are no such inhibitions. They are very conscious of their identity.
They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality
which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of
strength in the one, of weakness in the other.
A term sometimes used is constructive engagement. Let's talk to them,
let's get together and see what we can do. Constructive engagement has
a long tradition. When Saladin re-conquered Jerusalem and other places
in the holy land, he allowed the Christian merchants from Europe to
stay in the seaports. He apparently felt the need to justify this, and
he wrote a letter to the caliph in Baghdad explaining his action. I
would like to quote it to you. The merchants were useful since "there
is not one among them that does not bring and sell us weapons of war,
to their detriment and to our advantage." This continued during the
Crusades. It continued after. It continued during the Ottoman advance
into Europe, when they could always find European merchants willing to
sell them weapons they needed and European bankers willing to finance
their purchases. Constructive engagement has a long history.
One also finds a rather startling modern version of it. We have seen
in our own day the extraordinary spectacle of a pope apologizing to
the Muslims for the Crusades. I would not wish to defend the behavior
of the Crusaders, which was in many respects atrocious. But let us
have a little sense of proportion. We are now expected to believe that
the Crusades were an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful
Muslim world. Hardly. The first papal call for a crusade occurred in
846 C.E., when an Arab expedition from Sicily sailed up the Tiber and
sacked St. Peter's Rome. A synod in France issued an appeal to
Christian sovereigns to rally against "the enemies of Christ," and the
Pope, Leo IV, offered a heavenly reward to those who died fighting the
Muslims. A century and a half and many battles later, in 1096, the
Crusaders actually arrived in the Middle East. The Crusades were a
late, limited, and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad--an attempt to
recover by holy war what had been lost by holy war. It failed, and it
was not followed up.
Here is another more recent example of multiculturalism. On October 8,
2002--I insist on giving the date because you may want to look it
up--the then French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who I am told
is a staunch Roman Catholic, was making a speech in the French
National Assembly and talking about the situation in Iraq. Speaking of
Saddam Hussein, he remarked that one of Saddam Hussein's heroes was
his compatriot Saladin, who came from the same Iraqi town of Tikrit.
In case the members of the Assembly were not aware of Saladin's
identity, M. Raffarin explained to them that it was he who was able
"to defeat the Crusaders and liberate Jerusalem." Yes. When a French
prime minister describes Saladin's capture of Jerusalem from the
largely French Crusaders as an act of liberation, this would seem to
indicate a rather extreme case of realignment of loyalties.
I was told this, and I didn't believe it. So I checked it in the
parliamentary record. When M. Raffarin used the word "liberate," a
member--the name was not given--called out, "Libérer?" He just
straight on. That was the only interruption, and as far as I was aware
there was no comment afterwards.
The Islamic radicals have even been able to find some allies in
Europe. In describing them I shall have to use the terms left and
right, terms which are becoming increasingly misleading. The seating
arrangements in the first French National Assembly after the
revolution are not the laws of nature, but we have become accustomed
to using them. They are difficult when applied to the West nowadays.
They are utter nonsense when applied to different brands of Islam. But
as I say, they are what people use, so let us put it this way.
They have a left-wing appeal to the anti-U.S. elements in Europe, for
whom they have so-to-speak replaced the Soviets. They have a
right-wing appeal to the anti-Jewish elements in Europe, replacing the
Axis. They have been able to win considerable support under both
headings. For some in Europe, their hatreds apparently outweigh their
There is an interesting exception to that in Germany, where the
Muslims are mostly Turkish. There they have often tended to equate
themselves with the Jews, to see themselves as having succeeded the
Jews as the victims of German racism and persecution. I remember a
meeting in Berlin convened to discuss the new Muslim minorities in
Europe. In the evening I was asked by a Muslim group of Turks to join
them and hear what they had to say about it, which was very
interesting. The phrase which sticks most vividly in my mind from one
of them was, "In a thousand years they (the Germans) were unable to
accept 400,000 Jews. What hope is there that they will accept two
million Turks?" They used this very skillfully in playing on German
feelings of guilt in order to inhibit any effective German measures to
protect German identity, which I would say like others in Europe is
My time is running out so I think I'll leave other points that I
wanted to make. [Shouts to go on.] You don't mind a bit more?
I want to say something about the question of tolerance. You will
recall that at the end of the first phase of the Christian reconquest,
after Spain and Portugal and Sicily, Muslims--who by that time were
very numerous in the reconquered lands--were given a choice: baptism,
exile, or death. In the former Ottoman lands in southeastern Europe,
the leaders of what you might call the reconquest were somewhat more
tolerant but not a great deal more. Some Muslim minorities remained in
some Balkan countries, with troubles still going on at the present
day. If I say names like Kosovo or Bosnia, you will know what I am
Nevertheless, I mention this point because of the very sharp contrast
with the treatment of Christians and other non-Muslims in the Islamic
lands at that time. When Muslims came to Europe they had a certain
expectation of tolerance, feeling that they were entitled to at least
the degree of tolerance which they had accorded to non-Muslims in the
great Muslim empires of the past. Both their expectations and their
experience were very different.
Coming to European countries, they got both more and less than they
had expected: More in the sense that they got in theory and often in
practice equal political rights, equal access to the professions, all
the benefits of the welfare state, freedom of expression, and so on
and so forth.
But they also got significantly less than they had given in
traditional Islamic states. In the Ottoman Empire and other states
before that--I mention the Ottoman Empire as the most recent--the
non-Muslim communities had separate organizations and ran their own
affairs. They collected their own taxes and enforced their own laws.
There were several Christian communities, each living under its own
leadership, recognized by the state. These communities were running
their own schools, their own education systems, administering their
own laws in such matters as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and the
like. The Jews did the same.
So you had a situation in which three men living in the same street
could die and their estates would be distributed under three different
legal systems if one happened to be Jewish, one Christian, and one
Muslim. A Jew could be punished by a rabbinical court and jailed for
violating the Sabbath or eating on Yom Kippur. A Christian could be
arrested and imprisoned for taking a second wife. Bigamy is a
Christian offense; it was not an Islamic or an Ottoman offense.
They do not have that degree of independence in their own social and
legal life in the modern state. It is quite unrealistic for them to
expect it, given the nature of the modern state, but that is not how
they see it. They feel that they are entitled to receive what they
gave. As one Muslim friend of mine in Europe put it, "We allowed you
to practice monogamy, why should you not allow us to practice
Such questions--polygamy, in particular--raise important issues of a
more practical nature. Isn't an immigrant who is permitted to come to
France or Germany entitled to bring his family with him? But what
exactly does his family consist of? They are increasingly demanding
and getting permission to bring plural wives. The same is also
applying more and more to welfare payments and so on. On the other
hand, the enforcement of shari`a is a little more difficult. This has
become an extremely sensitive issue.
Another extremely sensitive issue, closely related to this, is the
position of women, which is of course very different between
Christendom and Islam. This has indeed been one of the major
differences between the two societies.
Where do we stand now? Is it third time lucky? It is not impossible.
They have certain clear advantages. They have fervor and conviction,
which in most Western countries are either weak or lacking. They are
self-assured of the rightness of their cause, whereas we spend most of
our time in self-denigration and self-abasement. They have loyalty and
discipline, and perhaps most important of all, they have demography,
the combination of natural increase and migration producing major
population changes, which could lead within the foreseeable future to
significant majorities in at least some European cities or even
But we also have some advantages, the most important of which are
knowledge and freedom. The appeal of genuine modern knowledge in a
society which, in the more distant past, had a long record of
scientific and scholarly achievement is obvious. They are keenly and
painfully aware of their relative backwardness and welcome the
opportunity to rectify it.
Less obvious but also powerful is the appeal of freedom. In the past,
in the Islamic world the word freedom was not used in a political
sense. Freedom was a legal concept. You were free if you were not a
slave. The institution of slavery existed. Free meant not slave.
Unlike the West, they did not use freedom and slavery as a metaphor
for good and bad government, as we have done for a long time in the
Western world. The terms they used to denote good and bad government
are justice and injustice. A good government is a just government, one
in which the Holy Law, including its limitations on sovereign
authority, is strictly enforced. The Islamic tradition, in theory and,
until the onset of modernization, to a large degree in practice,
emphatically rejects despotic and arbitrary government. Living under
justice is the nearest approach to what we would call freedom.
But the idea of freedom in its Western interpretation is making
headway. It is becoming more and more understood, more and more
appreciated and more and more desired. It is perhaps in the long run
our best hope, perhaps even our only hope, of surviving this
developing struggle. Thank you.
MONDAY, March 19,
ON THIS DAY FOUR YEARS AGO, THE IRAQ WAR BEGAN.
On Sunday, March 16, 2003, I began this offering entitled "Rapid
Response...Daily Commentary on News of the Day", and
have continued it ever since. It did not take long after the
"Shock and Awe" began to realize that something was seriously wrong
with implementation. All of that is well-documented in this
section during the last four years.
What lessons to draw, so far?
- A finger in the wind and on the latest polls, as existed during
the Clinton years, does not constitute a foreign policy. It
merely engendered comtempt in our enemies, leading directly to 9/11.
- The vast "intelligence community" lacked same, especially in
their self-serving unwillingness to share resources and
information. They failed us...and then tried to pin the tail on
- "Do not start vast projects with half-vast ideas".
This administration lacked basic knowledge about Islam and sectarian
differences which have existed for nearly 1,400 years. They could
not even pass "Islam and the Middle East 101". Professor Bernard
Lewis, this must have been very frustrating to you. This was
gross negligence or recklessness.
- The anti - Powell strategem of using a minimal number of troops,
designed and micro-managed by Donald Rumsfeld, was wrong from the
beginning and should have been changed within three months in view if
developments in Iraq during the Spring and early Summer of 2003.
Mr. Rumsfeld proved stubborn, arrogant and uneducable, and should have
been fired at two years ago. His generals were generally
sycophantic...at least until they retired to write their books.
His boss placed much too much stock in "loyalty" rather than in common
sense and the facts on the ground.
- The Iraqi people have shown great courage in voting, and in
resisting an all-out civil war despite being severely tested.
As in our country (involving both Republicans and Democrats), it
is their leaders who have been failing them in the vital efforts at
reconciliation vs. revenge.
- Regardless of the Democratic histrionics, we must remain in Iraq
for the next several years...for various reasons but mainly in our own
self-interest, even at the terrible cost of the game of
"catch-up". And even Hillary Clinton has been honest enough
to state that, as quoted extensively in the NYTimes last week. In
fact, precisely because of the Democratic histrionics and demagoguery
regarding this entire matter, voting Americans may well once again
decide that the nation's security cannot be entrusted to the likes of
And now...a word from the people who have most at stake in this
matter: the Iraqi people... GS
Iraqis: life is getting better
UK Sunday Times
MOST Iraqis believe life is better for them now than it was under
Saddam Hussein, according to a British opinion poll published today.
The survey of more than 5,000 Iraqis found the majority optimistic
despite their suffering in sectarian violence since the American-led
invasion four years ago this week.
One in four Iraqis has had a family member murdered, says the poll by
Opinion Research Business. In Baghdad, the capital, one in four has
had a relative kidnapped and one in three said members of their family
had fled abroad. But when asked whether they preferred life under
Saddam, the dictator who was executed last December, or under Nouri
al-Maliki, the prime minister, most replied that things were better
for them today.
Only 27% think there is a civil war in Iraq, compared with 61% who do
not, according to the survey carried out last month.
By a majority of two to one, Iraqis believe military operations now
under way will disarm all militias. More than half say security will
improve after a withdrawal of multinational forces.
Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary, said the findings pointed to
progress. "There is no widespread violence in the four southern
provinces and the fact that the picture is more complex than the
stereotype usually portrayed is reflected in today's poll," she said.
SUNDAY, March 17 and 18, 2007
- The critics of the WMD story are curiously silent, now that a WMD
is actually being used in Iraq: Chlorine Gas. Try
some honesty for a change, folks.
- The critics of our handling of "detainees"
continue to ignore the fact that irregulars charged with terrorist acts
are not covered under the Geneva Convention. That said, these
people should receive at least timely adjudication under Military
- The NYTimes today editorializes again about the sad state
of our Army. They hit all the right buttons...but they
fail to mention the elephant in the room: A FAIR DRAFT. Another
example of less than honest reporting.
- And add to the litany of troubles the military is having the
information reported in today's NYTimes Magazine regarding the abuse
of military women at the hands of their "buddies". This
outrageous state of affairs is made even worse by pressures "not to
snitch". When did society turn personal responsibility and a code
of honor on its head...in the military, in the academies and in the
workplace? Even legitimate and vitally needed "whistleblowers"
continue to be punished despite blather to the contrary. Does
anybody else care about all this decay in the basic structure of our
- Ultimately, the decay has been going on in family life, in parenting
malpractice. Locally, we have been reading about
examples of this in our neighboring community, East Lyme. Today's
editorial in The Day clearly exposes the problem...even when there are
two parents in the household (Perspective And, with over 60%
of Black families without a father in the house, the predictions of
then Daniel Patrick Moynahan in the later 1960's, for which he was
pilloried, were prophetic.
- With all this going on, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans
continues to find it appropriate to claim racism and ethnic cleansing
for everything that has happened to that unfortunate city. Demagoguery
FRIDAY, March 15 and 16, 2007
THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. This right of every
citizen, guaranteed by Amendment II of the U.S. Constitution, is again
front and center...and headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for "final
resolution". Appropriately, it stems from the situation in
Washington D.C., which effectively prohibits anyone except criminals
from keeping operational firearms in their homes. The result:
that particular urban center has for years had the highest crime and
violence rate in the country.
A lucid exposition of the issue is found in an article appearing
in the WSJ Wednesday, March 14, 2007, entitled "Second Amendment
Showdown", by Ted Cruz, Solicitor General of Texas (Opinion,
pA14). The Second Amendment states in its entirety: "A well
regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free
State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be
infringed." That this is an individual right
and not a collective right is imbedded in the expressed
intent of the Framers and in subsequent Supreme Court precedent and
State court actions over the last 150 years. "At the time of
the founding, the 'militia' was understood to consist of all
able-bodied males armed with their own weapons; indeed, the Militia Act
of 1792 not only permitted individual gun ownership, it required every
man to "provide himself with a good musket or firelock...or with a good
The state of immorality, irresponsibility, drug addiction, sense
of entitlement and lack of self-control that envelops our society
today, together with the shortage of police officers (both in numbers
and in training, something they will not admit), makes this right even
more important today. The U.S. Supreme Court should say no less.
WEDNESDAY, March 14, 2007
- Citizens of New London: shame on all of you who did
not vote in this week's Charter Revision referendum.
Only 1,900 out of 10, 000 registered voters bothered to
express their opinion on this very important issue. Two/thirds of
those voters approved of the Charter change. But, although that
was enough to satisfy the minimum 15% turnout requirement to make a
valid referendum in an off-year election, it did not achieve the
minimum 15% "yes" vote calculated among all registered voters.
Was there a skunk in this woodpile? We might question why the
Charter Revision Commission found itself unable to complete its work, a
second time around, in time to have it voted on during the last
regular election, with its larger turnout. We might question
whether hide-bound Democrats in town are really so satisfied with their
party's governance during the last 10 years. And we certainly
question the vitality of the opposition / complainers in their ability
to make a difference. But, in the end I'll say it again: IN A
DEMOCRACY, THE PEOPLE ALWAYS GET WHAT THEY DESERVE.
- Bush-whacking is becoming an Olympic sport, now both from
the Left and from some elements of the Right. Certainly,
President Bush will now admit that, in the parlance of Washington,
D.C., "mistakes were made". But the criticism is perhaps
one part conviction and at least two parts politics. And the
level of vituperation is a dis-service to the entire country, and
especially to our fighting troops. : 1) pre-emptive
seif-defense is alive and well; 2) we do not yet know whether WMD's
were or were not in the hands of Saddam Hussein before the
invasion...and the Scooter Libby is merely a side-show to that
question; 3) Iraq is far better off without Hussein, even
if the Iraqii people have to fight a civil war to find their
future...sounds like America; 4) the Sunni / Shia conflict is
1.300 years old and world-wide in Islam...we should have recognized its
impact beforehand, but we did not invent it; 5) remember Oil,
the life-blood of the entire Western world, including those who
cynically criticize us for protecting our access to it? 6) Afghanistan,
its Taliban and its al Qaida would be a walk in the park if we could
deny those terrorists their safe-haven in Pakistan (with its weak
leader, strong opposition and nuclear weapons); 7) did we need
reminding today of the ambitions of al Qaida for world-wide
chaos? Wake up, folks.
And read two articles directly on point: a) "The Long Exit",
by David Brooks, NYTimes today, Op-Ed pA25; and b) "Clinton Says
Some G.I.'s in Iraq Would Stay if She Took Office", by
Gordon and Healy, NYTimes today, pA1. If Hillary continues in
this candid vein, and if the "Republican base" continues in their Land
of Oz right up to their nominating convention, I may for the first time
vote for a Clinton!
MONDAY and TUESDAY, March 12 and
Love him or loathe him, he nailed this
one right on the head...
By Rush Limbaugh:
I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the
September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform
are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you
just don't criticize anything having to do with September 11. Well, I
can't let the numbers pass by because it says something really
disturbing about the entitlement mentality of this country. If you lost
a family member in the September 11 attack, you're going to get an
average of $1,185,000. The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000,
all the way up to $4.7 million.
If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in
action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half
of which is taxable.
Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse,
you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there's a payment of $211
per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those
payments come to a screeching halt.
Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of
$1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it's not enough
Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong
place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harms way FOR ALL
OF US, and they and their families know the dangers.
We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the
Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same
deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that,
some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking
for compensation as well.
You see where this is going, don't you? Folks, this is part and parcel
of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country. It's just
really sad. Every time a pay raise comes up for the military, they
usually receive next to nothing of a raise. Now the green machine is in
combat in the Middle East while their families have to survive on food
stamps and live in low-rent housing Make sense?
However, our own US Congress voted themselves a raise. Many of you
don't know that they only have to be in Congress one time to receive a
pension that is more than $15,000 per month. And most are now equal to
being millionaires plus. They do not receive Social Security on
retirement because they didn't have to pay into the system. If some of
the military people stay in for 20 years and get out as an E-7, they
may receive a pension of $1,000 per month, and the very people who
placed them in harm's way receives a pension of $15,000 per month.
I would like to see our elected officials pick up a weapon and join
ranks before they start cutting out benefits and lowering pay for our
sons and daughters who are now fighting.
SUNDAY, March 11, 2007
Today's offering is for local consumption by the citizens
of New London, Ct. regarding the referendum to be held in two days
on changing our Charter of local government. But the basic issue
can have wide relevance: choosing between fear,
negativism, pessivism and apathy vs. hope, optimism and a can-do
attitude when dealing with the mechanisms of our self-government...our
birth-right. Above all, VOTE. And in New London,
vote in favor of the proposed Charter revisions on Tuesday, March
13, 2007. GS
February 22, 2007
To The Editor, The Day:
The forum held on
Sunday, Feb. 18, at New
Public Library regarding the proposed New London City
Charter revision was informative and worthwhile. However,
since I was only partially quoted in
the article published the following day, I offer herewith my position
- The proposal to be voted upon by
our citizens is definitely a camel: “a horse designed by committee”. There are significant shortcomings, if the
intent is to provide for a “strong Mayor” and for more timely input
from the citizenry.
- The problems New London governance
has faced for decades relates not as much to the form of government as
to the fact that this has been…until recently…a one party show. And it has not helped that many citizens
blindly vote Democratic, no matter what, simply because their parents
and grandparents did. Not smart.
- “Strength” in a democracy relates
directly to the proximity of the office- holder to the electorate. Thus, anything that improves that proximity
and that increases the public’s opportunity for direct participation is
- Under the proposed Charter
revision, the Board of Finance and the Mayor would be directly elected
by the people, in contrast to the current situation.
In addition, any budget could be subject to two referenda as
of right, if necessary. This is
opportunity and strength for the people of New London.
- Could the citizens elect dummies or
people with obvious or subtle self-interest? Of
course. But, “IN A DEMOCRACY, THE PEOPLE
ALWAYS GET WHAT THEY DESERVE”. And that’s
the way it should work, instead of fostering a puppet show.
having served two terms on the Board of
Education and one term on the City Council before retiring from public
I wish to express my strong support for the proposed City Charter
Revision. In addition, I urge all New
Londoners to vote on this matter on Tuesday, March 13, 2007. I
urge you to attend the forum on the subject
being sponsored by The Day on Tuesday evening, Feb. 27. And, if
you don’t participate and vote, stop
the impotent complaining.
Sprecace, M.D., J.D.
SATURDAY, March 10, 2007
There are times when I'm almost speechless after reading
excellent articles. At those times, I simply share them.
- REGARDING SCHOOLS AND SCHOOLING: "School
Turned Upside Down", by Elain Stoll, The Day Monday, March 5, pA1.
- "Mosh Pit Meets Sandbox", by David Brooks, NYTimes
Sunday, Feb. 25, pWK14.
- "Family Relationships Shape Education", by David Brooks,
The Day Friday, March 2, pA7.
- REGARDING THE IMMIGRATION MORASS: "Feds:
Raided Firm Hired Illegals To Keep Up With Military
Contracts", by Jay Lindsay, The Day Wednesday, March 7.
- "GOP Protectionists", by Jack Kemp, WSJ Tuesday, March
- REGARDING HEALTH CARE: "Prescription For
Trouble", by Scott Gottlieb, WSJ Tuesday, March 6.
- REGARDING SEX OFFENDERS and DOUBLE JEOPARDY vs.
TREATMENT: "Doubts Rise As States Hold Sex Offenders
After Prison", by Monica Davey and Abby Goodnough, NYTimes Sunday,
March 4, pA1.
- REGARDING "The Bush administration's assault on some of
the founding principles of American democracy..." according
to the NYTimes: "The Must-Do List, editorial Sunday,
March 4, pWk 11.
- "Peace-of-Mind Sacrifice Not Nearly Enough", by Thomas
L. Friedman, The Day Friday, March 9, pA7.
- REGARDING POLITICS: Conservatives
Needn't Be So Dismayed Over Top GOP Candidates, by
George F. Will, The Day Friday, March 9, pA7.
- "Fix The Politics", by Cal Thomas, The Day Thursday,
March 8, pA9.
To paraphrase Mark Twain's statement, "news of the print
media's death is exaggerated"...as long as a few of us can still read.
FRIDAY, March 9, 2007
Here is what a person near "the
soul of Putin" is thinking. Combined with yesterday's offering,
this world seems truly dangerous...especially for America. So, is
now the time for this country to be so divided? GS
ITEM 7: Sergei Karaganov: A Cold Peace Is More Dangerous Than a Cold
War: The Harsh Truths of Failure in the Post-Cold War Era
March 7, 2007
A COLD PEACE IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN A COLD WAR
The harsh truths of failure in the post-Cold War era
Author: Sergei Karaganov, chairman of the Foreign and Defense Policy
[The world's leaders have failed to improve security and stability
in the years since the Cold War ended. International law has
collapsed, and military force has returned to its traditional place
in the system of international relations.]
With all due respect to our head of
state, the speech made by
President Vladimir Putin in Munich didn't contain any sensational
revelations. The ideas he expressed were mostly well-known and quite
popular. Even in the West, opinion polls showed 68-73% of
respondents agreeing with what Putin said. If polls had been done in
Asia or Latin America, these figures would have been even higher.
The main point of emphasis in his speech - denouncing the concept of
a unipolar world - was somewhat belated, I think. America's
worldwide failure is already obvious to everyone.
It's slightly frustrating that
Russia lost patience and said
out loud what its European neighbors thought but often didn't
venture to say. Once again, we've found ourselves in our traditional
role: the much-criticized defender of common interests, with the
more cautious and cynical Europeans hiding behind our backs. But at
least our partners can no longer pretend not to hear our objections.
All the same, President Putin's
speech seems likely to be
recognized as a historic event - and that's not because it allegedly
declares a transition to a Cold War. Only idiots or blatant
Russophobes believe that. This speech, with all its harsh truths,
put an end (for the time being, at least) to hopes of establishing a
new and more civilized world based on partnership, or even a quasi-
alliance of civilized great powers against trends that pose a threat
to all: nuclear weapons proliferation (probably unstoppable now),
terrorism, the spread of failed states. Neither will we have a
common energy policy at this stage.
The Munich speech does not mean
that Russia is rejecting
cooperation on these and other problems. President Putin simply
stated, directly or indirectly, that the world's leaders have
International law - even in the
imperfect form in which it was
established after World War II - has been toppled, and political
expediency (the law of the jungle) is gaining the upper hand. The
remnants of the international treaty system that restrained the arms
race are crumbling as we watch, and the arms race itself is
accelerating. Any talk of democratizing international relations has
become a mockery. Any talk of uniting countries on the basis of
common value systems is simply embarrassing. Mercenary self-interest
is becoming the chief value these days. I hope that at least one
bastion will remain with some sort of common value in place: the
European Union. But even in Europe, any talk of morals in foreign
policy has become somewhat uncomfortable, given past and present
events in the former Yugoslavia.
Military force has returned to its
traditional place in the
system of international relations. The international security system
itself is becoming increasingly fragile. In this environment,
provocateurs feel free to act as they please. This was recently
demonstrated in Lebanon, and it's being demonstrated every day in
Iraq. Against this background, stupid plans to deploy obviously
ineffective missile defense systems in Central Europe also seem like
an act of provocation. Most international organizations have been
discredited or are growing weaker, but no new and effective
organizations are being established.
The United States will flee from
Iraq, inevitably. But
correcting the Iraq error by withdrawal will not create a more just
or more manageable world. It's already clear that the collapse of
America's unipolar aspirations will not lead to an effective
multipolar world; it will lead to chaos. And chaos in the early 21st
Century is extremely dangerous - given the existence and
proliferation of nuclear weapons and terrorism, and the modern
world's rapid information exchange and rising political activity
among the masses almost everywhere. The conflict of civilizations is
coming to the surface.
I'd venture to suggest that the
coming era of Cold Peace, which
we are entering after 15 years of euphoria over the end of the Cold
War and the international community's abject failure to create any
effective system of managing international relations and security,
will be more dangerous in many respects than the Cold War itself.
From the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Cold War became
increasingly manageable. Bipolar discipline actually functioned.
From the 1970s, military-political relations were more and more
tightly regulated by a system of treaties, becoming more transparent
But now it's every country fighting
for itself. Any
understanding of common interests is pushed into the background. The
latest example is the failure of plans to establish a common
Russian-European energy strategy. These plans have been replaced by
vicious confrontation based on purely individual interests, not
common interests. The rise of economic nationalism has slowed down
or even reversed international trade deregulation processes.
This backdrop is strongly
reminiscent of pre-war periods.
In the Cold War years, people
"fought for peace" - some
sincerely, others cynically. It seems like we should bring back
"fighting for peace" as a slogan for today. Over the next decade,
the world faces the threat of a series of conflicts - with some
involving nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
What should Russia do in this
situation? For the time being,
we'll have to rely on ourselves, growing truly strong, improving our
knowledge of the world and the quality of government in Russia. We
must not respond to acts of provocation (although many of us do want
to respond - due to outdated mindsets or mercenary interests). We
should distance ourselves from conflicts as much as possible,
averting the possibility of Russia being turned into a field for
inter-civilizational or other battles. Most importantly, we should
look to the future. The series of impending cataclysms (not
catastrophes, let's hope) will actually force world leaders old and
new to resume the search for more unified and rational policies and
ways of making the world more manageable.
In Munich, Putin spoke the bitter
truth about the present and
the recent past. But we shouldn't stop at this recital of the facts.
We need to seek and propose solutions to the extremely unpleasant
and dangerous situation which is currently taking shape.
Translated by Elena Leonova
TUESDAY through THURSDAY, March 5
through 8, 2007
HERE IS A GERMAN EDITORIAL
If any of you still
feel that this war on terror is a mistake, here is an opinion from an
unexpected source. It's
fascinating that this should come out of Europe. Mathias Dapfner,
Chief Executive of the huge German publisher Axel
Springer AG, has written a blistering attack in DIE WELT,
Germany's largest daily paper, against the timid reaction of
Europe in the face of the Islamic threat. This is a must-read by
all Americans. History may well certify its correctness.
EUROPE - THY NAME
IS COWARDICE (Commentary by Mathias Dapfner CEO, Axel Springer, AG)
A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, "Europe - your
family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you
can't get out of your head because it's so terribly true.
Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives, as
England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated
too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be
fought, not bound to toothless agreements. Appeasement
legitimized and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union, then East
Germany, then all the rest of Eastern Europe, where for
decades, inhuman suppressive, murderous governments were glorified
as the ideologically correct alternative to all other
possibilities. Appeasement crippled Europe when
genocide ran rampant
in Kosovo, and even though we had absolute proof of ongoing
mass-murder, we Europeans debated and debated and debated, and
were still debating when finally the Americans had to come from
halfway around the world, into Europe yet
again, and do
our work for us. Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle
East, European Appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy
word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel
by fundamentalist Palestinians. Appeasement generates
mentality that allows Europe to
ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery
and, motivated by
the self-righteousness of the peace movement, has the gall to
issue bad grades to George Bush...
Even as it is uncovered
that the loudest critics of the American action in Iraq made
illicit billions, no, TENS of billions, in the corrupt U.N.
Oil-for-Food program. And now we are faced with a particularly
grotesque form of appeasement. How is Germany
the escalating violence by Islamic Fundamentalists in Holland and
elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a
"Muslim Holiday" in Germany? I wish I were joking, but I am not.
A substantial fraction of our (German) Government, and if
the polls are to be believed, the German people, actually believe
that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will
somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists. One
cannot help but recall Britain's Neville Chamberlain
waving the laughable treaty signed by Adolph Hitler
and declaring European "Peace in our time". What else has to happen
before the European public and its political leadership get it?
There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially
perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic
Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free,
open Western societies, and intent upon Western Civilization's
utter destruction. It is a conflict that will most likely
last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last
century - a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be
tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually spurred
on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will
always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness. Only two
recent American Presidents had the courage needed for
Anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush. His American critics may
quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We
saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan
ended the Cold War, freeing half of the German people from nearly 50
years of terror and
virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat
Blair, acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger
in the Islamic War against Democracy. His place in history will
have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.
In the meantime, Europe sits
back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner,
instead of defending
liberal society's values and being an attractive center of power
on the same playing field as the true great powers,
America and China. On the contrary - we Europeans present
ourselves, in contrast to those "arrogant Americans", as the
World Champions of "tolerance", which even (Germany's Interior
Minister) Otto Schily
justifiably criticizes. Why? Because
we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic,
so devoid of a moral compass. For his policies, Bush
risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national
debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the
American economy - because unlike almost all of Europe,
Bush realizes what is at stake - literally everything. While we
criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because
they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend
our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get
expensive! We'd rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or
our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of paid vacation... Or listen
to TV pastors preach about the need to "reach out to
terrorists. To understand and forgive". These days, Europe
reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically
hides her last pieces of jewelry when she notices a robber
breaking into a neighbor's house.
Europe, thy name is
SUNDAY, March 4, 2007
The following needs no further comment. GS
ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome
Prelate's Assault on "Tomb of Jesus"
Archbishop Forte Says Discovery Is False
ROME, MARCH 1, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The alleged discovery of the tomb of
really just an attempt to put into question Christ's resurrection, said
archbishop-theologian of Chieti-Vasto.
Archbishop Bruno Forte, a member of the International Theological
these comments to ZENIT regarding James Cameron's documentary "The Lost
Jesus," produced in collaboration with Simcha Jacobovici.
The documentary is scheduled to be broadcast on the Discovery Channel
It claims that Jesus' burial site has been found and suggests that
married to Mary Magdalene and had a son.
Archbishop Forte, the president of the Italian episcopal conference's
the Doctrine of the Faith, said: "In fact there is talk of ancient
tombs, some from
the first century, discovered in the neighborhood of Talpiot, at the
the 1980s, on which are engraved some names, such as those of Jesus,
This is the factual data.
"However, there are many such tombs in the territory of the Holy Land.
is nothing new in this revelation."
The archbishop said that there is so much noise surrounding the
because the media "wanted to launch a scoop. Given the success of
operations such as
'The Da Vinci Code,' an attempt has been made to produce a similar
with the real question at stake, namely, if Jesus is really risen."
"In fact, the thesis launched is that if Jesus is buried there with his
the resurrection would be no more than an invention of his disciples,"
The archbishop continued: "However, leaving to one side the
inconsistency of the
archaeological proof, which has been utterly contested by Israeli
the factual event of Jesus' resurrection is rigorously documented in
Testament by the five accounts of the apparitions: four of the Gospels
"All critical studies in these two centuries have shown that in the
of the accounts of the apparitions there is non-debatable historicity,"
A historical encounter
Archbishop Forte said: "There is a vacuum between Good Friday, when the
abandoned Jesus, and Easter Sunday, when they became witnesses of the
with a drive and courage that impelled them to proclaim the good news
to the ends of
the earth, even to giving their lives for him.
"What happened? The profane historian cannot explain it. The Gospels
imply it: There
was an encounter that changed their lives.
"And this encounter, recounted in the passages of the apparitions, is
by an essential fact: The initiative is not from the disciples, but
from him who is
alive, as the book of the Acts of the Apostles states."
"This means that it isn't something that happens in the disciples but
happens to them," said Archbishop Forte.
"Beginning with this fact," he said, "in the course of history Christ
proclaimed with a drive that has involved geniuses of thought, not
Augustine of Hippo to Thomas Aquinas, down to Teresa of Calcutta, to
Finally, Archbishop Forte asked: "Why is the media so interested in
keeping Jesus in
"Obviously because, in the depths of the West's culture, and not just
of the West,
Jesus is such a decisive and important point of reference, that
affects him affects us."
Another scholar, Father Thomas Rosica, director of the Toronto-based
Salt and Light
Catholic Media Foundation, also commented to ZENIT on the documentary,
the fact that it has made such an impact leads one to question the
of the media.
He said: "What is most troubling about this recent publicity stunt of
place, and the alleged DNA findings of Jesus and his family, is that
the media have
spilled so much ink and wasted so much space on utter nonsense."
THURSDAY through SATURDAY, March
1 through 3, 2007
Computer problems have “stifled” me in recent
days. The following is an effort to catch
offering my conclusory statements supported by detailed newspaper
- HEALTH CARE COSTS are receiving blitz treatment
reminiscent of the halcyon Hillary days. But
wait. Check out my offerings on this
website going back to the 1970’s…and just as relevant today. Also check out the following: a) “A Dog’s
Breakfast”, WSJ Feb. 16, pA15; b) “The Cost of Coverage”,
WSJ Feb. 28, pA14; c) “Intensive Care for RomneyCare”, WSJ Feb.
26, pA19. Message: there is
no free lunch, and the one who eats it should order and pay, ala Health
- PUBLIC EDUCATION is the enduring failure of our
organized teachers. But they are
uneducable. Check out the following: a) “Selective
School Choice”, WSJ March 2, pA11; b) “The Philadelphia
Story”, WSJ Feb 23, pA11; “Report Raises Questions About
High-School Courses”, WSJ Feb. 23, pB1. Message:
The teachers’ unions are as bad as the tobacco
companies…and their product is just as unhealthy.
- Related to the above, there should be coined a
new phrase: FAILED PARENTHOOD. We see
evidence all around us of offspring who lack discipline, responsibility
and common sense. We even see cases, as
relating to the U. Conn.
student who was killed in a hit-and-run episode, where the involved
parents were accessories after the fact. One
explanation comes from “Study Finds Rising Narcissism,
Self-centeredness Among Students” (by David Crary, in The Day Feb.
27, Nation, pA4). “The researchers
traced the phenomenon back to what they called the ‘self-esteem
movement’ that emerged in the 1980’…Permissiveness seems to be a
component. A potential antidote would be
more authoritative parenting. Less
indulgence might be called for”. AMEN.
- OUR ENDLESS ELECTION CYCLES.
The very last line of script that Robin
Williams utters in the movie “Man of
the Year” says it all: “Politicians
are like diapers: they should be changed frequently, and for the same
- GLOBAL WARMING IS FACT. The
degree of contribution by human society in the last century may be in
question. But there is no question
regarding our choice: do we continue as part of the serious problem, or
as part of the solution?
- The “Yea-but’s” are always out there, confusing
the public. The most recent exercise
relates to HPV AND CERVICAL CANCER AND GARDISIL, the anti-viral vaccine. What is your problem?
- And the drum beats on about having
vs. alleged intentional deception regarding the rationale for the
invasion vs. implementation. Absent more evidence than exists
today, those who equate and damn all of those elements of the question
are the real deceivers. See the Letter to the Editor by Juan
O’Callahan of Stonington,
Ct. (The Day Feb. 22,
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