Monday, June 25, 2007


Here's why much of the region is so unhinged - and it's not because of our policy in Palestine or our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. First, thanks to Western inventions and Chinese manufactured goods, Middle Easterners can now access the non-Muslim world cheaply and vicariously. To millions of Muslims, the planet appears - on the Internet, DVDs and satellite television - to be growing rich as most of their world stays poor. Second, the Middle East either will not or cannot make the changes necessary to catch up with what they see in the rest of the world. Tribalism - loyalty only to kin rather than to society at large - impedes merit and thus progress. So does gender apartheid. Who knows how many would-be Margaret Thatchers or Sandra Day O'Connors remain veiled in the kitchen?

Religious fundamentalism translates into rote prayers in madrassas while those outside the Middle East master science and engineering. Without a transparent capitalist system - antithetical to both sharia (Muslim law) and state-run economies - initiative is never rewarded. Corruption is.

Meanwhile, mere discussion in much of the region of what is wrong can mean execution by a militia, government thug or religious vigilante. So, Middle Easterners are left with the old frustration of wanting the good life of Western society but lacking either the ability or willingness to change the status quo to get it. Instead, we get monotonous scapegoating. Blaming America or Israel - "Those sneaky Jews did it!" - has become a regional pastime.

And after the multifarious failures of Yasser Arafat, the Assads in Syria, Muammar Gaddafi, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Saddam Hussein and other corrupt autocrats, many have, predictably, retreated to fundamentalist extremism. Almost daily, some fundamentalist claims that the killing of Westerners is justified - because of a cartoon, a Papal paragraph or, most recently, British knighthood awarded to novelist Salman Rushdie. The terrorism of Osama bin Laden, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban is as much about nihilist rage as it is about blackmailing Western governments to grant concessions.




Britain gives up control of its own foreign policy: "While Blair left Brussels insisting he had preserved Britain's control over its foreign policy, the small print of the treaty prepares the way for a powerful new EU diplomatic service with ambassadors worldwide. They will report to a "high representative" who will be vice-president of the European commission and will chair meetings of EU foreign ministers. The treaty commits the EU to a "common foreign and security policy". Member states must support the policy "actively and unreservedly, in the spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity". They are barred from taking any action -- such as launching military strikes or declaring war -- that could damage the EU's standing. Downing Street said an annex to the treaty ensured it would not affect foreign policy. But opposition politicians said the annex was a "declaration" rather than a legally binding "protocol". They demanded the treaty be put to a referendum."

Gentleman Fred: "In the battle for the women's vote, Fred Thompson has a secret weapon against Hillary Clinton - the legions of former girlfriends who still adore him and who want him to be president. The Hollywood actor and former Tennessee senator racked up an impressive list of conquests during his swinging bachelor days in the 1990s, but he appears to have achieved the impossible and kept their friendship and respect. Lorrie Morgan, a country singer who dated Thompson and considered marrying him in the mid1990s, told The Sunday Times: "I couldn't think of a bad word to say about Fred if somebody put a gun to my head. "Fred is a perfect example of chivalry. He's the kind of man little girls dream about marrying, who opens doors for you, lights your cigarettes, helps you on with your coat, buys wonderful gifts. It's every woman's fantasy."

The British airforce is still relying on the military version of the De Havilland Comet -- the first passenger jet ever flown (in 1952): "The station commander of a Nimrod spyplane that exploded over Afghanistan warned a year earlier that an "unexpected failure" was likely with a similar ageing plane already 10 years past its out-of-service date. The comments were made in August 2005 at the end of an internal report into a leak of superheated air in the bomb bay of a Nimrod. In the report, an unnamed group captain says the leak was "a particular concern as the ageing Nimrod MR2 is extended beyond its original out-of-service date" of 1995. The leak of the hot air was not the first time there had been an unforeseen failure of a piece of equipment on board a Nimrod "in recent months" as a direct result of the aircraft's age, he added." [OK: I know the B52 has been going since 1955]

The brave Taliban "freedom fighters": "A group of girls returning home from school in Afghanistan's Logar province recently did not for a moment expect what lay ahead. As they walked down a dirt track, insurgents sprang out of the parched farms and began firing on them. Some of them fled into the farm, but two girls, one aged 13, the other 10, were killed in the ambush. Three of their friends were wounded. ... In the past 13 months, 226 schools, many run from tents, have been burnt down by the insurgents. A total of 110 teachers and students have been killed in incidents of indirect violence and another 52 wounded, officials say."

Gaza got what it voted for: "There's an old saying cynics invoke whenever complaints arise about the shoddy state of our public life: You get the politicians you vote for. Someone should tell that to the Palestinians. Last week, the Sword of Islam conquered the Gaza strip, that miserable stretch of land that will be made all the more miserable now that religious fascists rule the roost. If any lesson can be learned about the Arab-Israeli conflict these past few weeks, it's that Palestinian terrorists are just as happy to kill their fellow Palestinians as they are those perfidious Jews. But before the world sheds a collective tear on behalf of the Palestinians - a people who have received more foreign aid, per capita, than Europeans under the Marshall Plan - we ought to remember that they brought this horror upon themselves. In January 2006, Hamas overwhelmingly won the Palestinian legislative election, taking 56 percent of the seats in the legislature."

NYT digging dirt on Murdoch: "The New York Times is currently undertaking a major news investigation, led by managing editor Jill Abramson, into News Corp.'s business dealings throughout the world, according to a source with knowledge of the project. Currently, Ms. Abramson is working outside of the newsroom, recovering from injuries sustained during a traffic accident last month. But, as she told The Observer in an e-mail on May 26, executive editor Bill Keller has kept her quite busy. 'Bill has asked me to lead an investigative project for the next month, which I'll mainly do from home,' Ms. Abramson wrote at the time."


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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