Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 25, 2007

Taking A Tyrant Out

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim that “we don’t have homosexuals in Iran” should be taken, like his wish to wipe Israel off the map, as a serious expression of his regime’s ambitions. The gay-rights movement in America and the liberal press took his homosexual comments as either a joke or a demonstration of one man’s “intolerance.” This reaction exemplifies the catastrophic implications of the intersection of a nuclear Iran and an American Left that does not take Ahmadinejad seriously. Make no mistake: the Islamic republic has genocidal ambitions, and not only for those Israeli “occupiers.”

If any gay solidarity exists, then one of its key concepts should be defending the countries that permit homosexuals to live and confronting the regimes that do not. But on today’s PlanetOut, which calls itself “the leading global media company exclusively serving the gay community,” the website’s two headlines in bold have been “Lesbian parents just fine” and “The Queer world cup”; Ahmadinejad’s comments are relegated to an Associated Press link. The Human Rights Campaign, America’s “largest national gay civil rights organization,” issued a paragraph-length press release: “Ahmadinejad’s denial that there are gay people in Iran shows the extent to which he devalues the lives of the many citizens his government has and continues to violate.” These are not fighting words.

Read More

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim that “we don’t have homosexuals in Iran” should be taken, like his wish to wipe Israel off the map, as a serious expression of his regime’s ambitions. The gay-rights movement in America and the liberal press took his homosexual comments as either a joke or a demonstration of one man’s “intolerance.” This reaction exemplifies the catastrophic implications of the intersection of a nuclear Iran and an American Left that does not take Ahmadinejad seriously. Make no mistake: the Islamic republic has genocidal ambitions, and not only for those Israeli “occupiers.”

If any gay solidarity exists, then one of its key concepts should be defending the countries that permit homosexuals to live and confronting the regimes that do not. But on today’s PlanetOut, which calls itself “the leading global media company exclusively serving the gay community,” the website’s two headlines in bold have been “Lesbian parents just fine” and “The Queer world cup”; Ahmadinejad’s comments are relegated to an Associated Press link. The Human Rights Campaign, America’s “largest national gay civil rights organization,” issued a paragraph-length press release: “Ahmadinejad’s denial that there are gay people in Iran shows the extent to which he devalues the lives of the many citizens his government has and continues to violate.” These are not fighting words.

Adoption surveys, marriage rights, civil unions—all seem a trifling on a gay agenda when compared with Ahmadinejad’s dream. He must be confronted, and the only realistic plan that might save gay Iranians from Ahmadinejad’s genocidal aims is the Bush Doctrine. Such an approach advocates constitutional democracies in the greater Middle East that are attuned to their people’s most basic needs—which are not exporting terrorism, blaming problems on the Jews, or rounding up homosexuals.

In the Bush Doctrine lies the opportunity for gay men and lesbians in the Muslim world to have the chance at a life in their own landsindeed, the chance to live. It is perplexing that those on the Left can demand marriage rights for homosexuals in America and at the same time so blithely ignore Iran’s gay “unpersons” and the hope that American intervention offers them. Instead, the “progressives” want to lessen our presence in the Middle Easteven though the result will be the peristence of states in which terrorism is tolerated and gay people are not.

Read Less

Columbia’s Master Class

If Columbia University President Lee Bollinger had a burning desire to expose Columbia students to Islam and the realities of contemporary Iran, then inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak was not the most effective method of exposure.

Ahmadinejad is first and foremost a politician, an extraordinarily shrewd one at that. His goal is not education, but rather propagation of his odious ideas.

Given the two leaders’ divergent goals—one to educate and the other to indoctrinate—it seems odd that President Bollinger extended Ahmadinejad an invite. Why not ask Iranian scholars or journalists to illuminate aspects of Iranian society? Well, SIPA, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, has done just that. As it says on SIPA’s website:

“Over the course of the 2007-2008 academic year, SIPA will host a lecture series examining the thirty year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Political leaders, scholars, and human rights activists will be invited to discuss the impact of the Islamic Republic of Iran on international security, peace, human rights, energy, and other critical issues.”

Dandy. I guess inviting Ahmadinejad rounded out the playbill, and had the added benefit of making not only the Columbia President, but also the Iranian President, look good.

Read More

If Columbia University President Lee Bollinger had a burning desire to expose Columbia students to Islam and the realities of contemporary Iran, then inviting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak was not the most effective method of exposure.

Ahmadinejad is first and foremost a politician, an extraordinarily shrewd one at that. His goal is not education, but rather propagation of his odious ideas.

Given the two leaders’ divergent goals—one to educate and the other to indoctrinate—it seems odd that President Bollinger extended Ahmadinejad an invite. Why not ask Iranian scholars or journalists to illuminate aspects of Iranian society? Well, SIPA, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, has done just that. As it says on SIPA’s website:

“Over the course of the 2007-2008 academic year, SIPA will host a lecture series examining the thirty year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Political leaders, scholars, and human rights activists will be invited to discuss the impact of the Islamic Republic of Iran on international security, peace, human rights, energy, and other critical issues.”

Dandy. I guess inviting Ahmadinejad rounded out the playbill, and had the added benefit of making not only the Columbia President, but also the Iranian President, look good.

The New York Times today sang Bollinger’s praises, singling out how the lawyer and First Amendment scholar “defended the event as in the best tradition of America’s free speech, then freely told Mr. Ahmadinejad: ‘You exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.’”

It is true that President Bollinger presented a scathing indictment of the Iranian President, addressing him: “I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions, but your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mind-set that characterizes what you say and do.”

And while it is possible that with these words Bollinger redeemed himself in the eyes of some Columbia alumni and trustees, when Ahmadinejad did finally reach the microphone, he was able to use Bollinger’s insults to his own advantage, morphing himself into the rooted-for underdog.

According to the Times’s live blogging from the Columbia event yesterday,

Mr. Ahmadinejad began: “At the outset, I want to complain a bit about the person who read this political statement against me. In Iran, tradition requires that when we invite a person to be a speaker, we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment and we don’t think it’s necessary before the speech is even given to come in with a series of claims…”

The room erupted in applause.

Out of the fray, then, of the critical salvos, Columbia President Lee Bollinger emerges, in the eyes of many, as a strong critic of tyranny, while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turns up as an advocate for free expression.

Too bad the event wasn’t billed as a master class in image manipulation.

Read Less

A Coming Crime Wave?

In today’s Washington Post we read that

[v]iolent crime in the United States rose more than previously believed in 2006, continuing the most significant increase in more than a decade, according to an FBI report released yesterday. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program found that robberies surged by 7.2 percent and homicides rose 1.8 percent from 2005 to 2006. Violent crime overall rose 1.9 percent, substantially more than an increase of 1.3 percent estimated in a preliminary FBI report in June. The jump was the second in two years, following a 2.3 percent rise in 2005. Taken together, the two years represent the first steady increase in violent crime since 1993, FBI records show. The uptick presents a significant political challenge for the Bush administration, which has faced growing criticism from congressional Democrats, big-city mayors, and police chiefs for presiding over cuts in federal assistance to local law enforcement agencies over the past six years.

Read More

In today’s Washington Post we read that

[v]iolent crime in the United States rose more than previously believed in 2006, continuing the most significant increase in more than a decade, according to an FBI report released yesterday. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program found that robberies surged by 7.2 percent and homicides rose 1.8 percent from 2005 to 2006. Violent crime overall rose 1.9 percent, substantially more than an increase of 1.3 percent estimated in a preliminary FBI report in June. The jump was the second in two years, following a 2.3 percent rise in 2005. Taken together, the two years represent the first steady increase in violent crime since 1993, FBI records show. The uptick presents a significant political challenge for the Bush administration, which has faced growing criticism from congressional Democrats, big-city mayors, and police chiefs for presiding over cuts in federal assistance to local law enforcement agencies over the past six years.

According to Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which studies crime trends, the FBI report shows “a significant departure from the previous ten years of fairly flat or declining crime numbers.” According to Wexler, “What it underscores is what a number of communities have been seeing firsthand, and that is a spike in street-level violent crime. For some cities, crime is back as a significant issue.”

The increase in violent crime is real and should be taken seriously—but so should context. There is, in fact, no “significant departure” from the previous ten years of data. In fact, in every single category—rates of violent crime, murder/non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, property crime, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft—we are in better shape, and in several respects in significantly better shape, than ten years ago.

If you go to the FBI’s website, you will find that the violent crime rate (the rate per 100,000 inhabitants) has increased a bit during the last two years—but that it is still lower than it was in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003—and it is far below where it was during the 1980’s and the 1990’s. For example, the violent crime rate in 1989 was 666.9 per 100,000 inhabitants; it rose to 757.7 in 1992 and dropped to 523.0 in 1999. For 2006 the violent crime rate is 473.5 per 100,000 inhabitants—after having reached a low two years earlier (463.2).

We find the same trend in the murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate. In 1989, the murder rate was 8.7 per 100,000 inhabitants; in 1991 it rose to 9.8 and by 1999 it had dropped to 5.7. During this decade the murder rate has fluctuated between 5.5 and 5.7 per 100,000 inhabitants (5.7 per 100,000 inhabitants is where we are now). It’s worth recalling, too, that leading crime experts predicted a “coming crime wave” during the last half of the 1990’s and the first half of this decade—and that, instead, total crime, property crime, violent crime, and murder rates plummeted.

In the last dozen or so years we have witnessed a social indicators revival that is remarkable and in some areas even stunning—and America today is significantly safer than it was in past decades.

Read Less

Where’s the U.N.?

Last week, Lebanese legislator Antoine Ghanem was assassinated by a powerful bomb, the signature weapon of Syria’s secret service. He was at least the fifth member of the Lebanese legislature to die in this manner. Of course, there is no proof of the bombers’ identity, but all five victims have been distinguished by their anti-Syrian positions. If the perpetrator was not the Syrian regime, it was its fairy godmother.

This adds up to a blatant act of international aggression, the very thing that the United Nations was founded to prevent. And it is unfolding in full view. Where is the U.N. Security Council? Where is the Secretary General? Where are all those who preach greater reliance on the world body as the guarantor of “peace and security?” Where is the chorus that sings of international law, at least when it comes to rebuking the United States? (Where, for that matter, is Washington?)

Read More

Last week, Lebanese legislator Antoine Ghanem was assassinated by a powerful bomb, the signature weapon of Syria’s secret service. He was at least the fifth member of the Lebanese legislature to die in this manner. Of course, there is no proof of the bombers’ identity, but all five victims have been distinguished by their anti-Syrian positions. If the perpetrator was not the Syrian regime, it was its fairy godmother.

This adds up to a blatant act of international aggression, the very thing that the United Nations was founded to prevent. And it is unfolding in full view. Where is the U.N. Security Council? Where is the Secretary General? Where are all those who preach greater reliance on the world body as the guarantor of “peace and security?” Where is the chorus that sings of international law, at least when it comes to rebuking the United States? (Where, for that matter, is Washington?)

Aggression has long been recognized as the most fundamental crime under international law, but for generations nations failed to agree on a definition. Then, the U.N. Charter gave it clear definition, making this the essential principle of world order. Article 2.4 outlaws “the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Could there be a clearer case of the use of force against the political independence of a state than what Syria is doing to Lebanon? By murdering anti-Syrian legislators, Damascus hopes to tilt the delicate balance of power in Lebanon in its own favor when it comes to selecting a new Lebanese president to replace the incumbent, Emile Lahoud. Lahoud plays Charlie McCarthy to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s Edgar Bergen. It was for his objections to giving Lahoud an illegal additional term of office that former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Harari was blown to smithereens. This was the most dramatic crime of al-Assad’s murder spree (which the U.N. may or may not get around to prosecuting).

But the crime at hand is more serious than serial killing. It is the attempt to rob a nation of its political independence. Will anyone take notice? Will anyone take action?

Read Less

Hadar’s Radar

The Israeli Journalist Leon Hadar has a thoughtful piece in the National Interest (published on September 21) on Syria-Israel relations, in which he says that

Although it may come as a surprise, Damascus wants to settle its long-running dispute with Israel. Indeed, Syrian representatives have been trying for some time to make headway on the issue.

This is a remarkable statement, coming as it did between Israel’s raid deep into Syria and Antoine Ghanem’s funeral, events that speak volumes about Damascus’s modus operandi and the chances for bilateral peace deals.

I’m suspicious of Hadar’s take, to say the least. Especially given that Haaretz (who probably read the National Interest, too) has since put all Hadar’s optimism to rest:

“After this raid, you can forget about peace. It is no secret that our forces have been on alert for some time, but Syria will not be the first to start a war,” said one of the Syrian officials, who asked not to be named.

The Israeli Journalist Leon Hadar has a thoughtful piece in the National Interest (published on September 21) on Syria-Israel relations, in which he says that

Although it may come as a surprise, Damascus wants to settle its long-running dispute with Israel. Indeed, Syrian representatives have been trying for some time to make headway on the issue.

This is a remarkable statement, coming as it did between Israel’s raid deep into Syria and Antoine Ghanem’s funeral, events that speak volumes about Damascus’s modus operandi and the chances for bilateral peace deals.

I’m suspicious of Hadar’s take, to say the least. Especially given that Haaretz (who probably read the National Interest, too) has since put all Hadar’s optimism to rest:

“After this raid, you can forget about peace. It is no secret that our forces have been on alert for some time, but Syria will not be the first to start a war,” said one of the Syrian officials, who asked not to be named.

Read Less

The Tittering at Columbia

There are no homosexuals in Iran, Iran’s president said yesterday at Columbia University, and there are also no—or there will not ever be any—nuclear weapons.

Although Columbia’s president said that the purpose of inviting the Iranian leader was to foster dialogue and the clash of ideas, as Bret Stephens points out in a brilliant column in today’s Wall Street Journal, it is questionable whether the university president’s “confidence in ‘dialogue and reason’ is well placed.” It is even more questionable “whether confronting ideas is a sufficient condition for understanding the world,” let alone for protecting ourselves from the menace represented by those ideas as they are expressed in the strategic and theological aspirations of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Of course, it pays to listen to Ahmadinejad’s statements—including his false ones—with great care. But is it required of us to listen to them at the podium of an Ivy League university? And to pretend to be engaging in an academic “dialogue” with the Holocaust-denying, homosexual-denying, nuclear-weapons-denying, genocide-bent Iranian leader is something even worse.

The English language has a rich supply of words to label the Columbia dean, John Coatsworth, who said, in defending the invitation, that the university would also have been happy to invite Hitler to a debate in 1939. Which is the best term?

Read More

There are no homosexuals in Iran, Iran’s president said yesterday at Columbia University, and there are also no—or there will not ever be any—nuclear weapons.

Although Columbia’s president said that the purpose of inviting the Iranian leader was to foster dialogue and the clash of ideas, as Bret Stephens points out in a brilliant column in today’s Wall Street Journal, it is questionable whether the university president’s “confidence in ‘dialogue and reason’ is well placed.” It is even more questionable “whether confronting ideas is a sufficient condition for understanding the world,” let alone for protecting ourselves from the menace represented by those ideas as they are expressed in the strategic and theological aspirations of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Of course, it pays to listen to Ahmadinejad’s statements—including his false ones—with great care. But is it required of us to listen to them at the podium of an Ivy League university? And to pretend to be engaging in an academic “dialogue” with the Holocaust-denying, homosexual-denying, nuclear-weapons-denying, genocide-bent Iranian leader is something even worse.

The English language has a rich supply of words to label the Columbia dean, John Coatsworth, who said, in defending the invitation, that the university would also have been happy to invite Hitler to a debate in 1939. Which is the best term?

“Imbecile,” according to Webster’s, suggests someone “incapable of earning a living”—so that is not right because our Columbia dean’s accounts at TIAA-CREF are undoubtedly doing quite well.

Is “idiot” better? Perhaps, because it is defined as someone who is “incapable of avoiding the common dangers of life.” But since the term also refers to someone who is “incapable of connected speech,” it too is inaccurate. Coatsworth’s words may be deficient in various ways, but they are certainly connected; indeed, as Stephens shows, they are a constituent element of an entire worldview.

“Simpleton” implies “silliness or lack of sophistication,” and while Coatsworth is worse than silly, he is certainly sophisticated; indeed, he is a dean at one of our leading universities.

In the end, perhaps “fool”—a person “lacking in judgment or prudence”—is the most appropriate word. But as Webster’s points out, when all of these terms are used in their most general way, they all fit the bill insofar as they are often applied interchangeably to refer “to anyone regarded as lacking sense or good judgment.”

Fortunately, there are other and better solutions being developed than anything in the works at Columbia to deal with Ahmadinejad’s nuclear-weapons program, elements of which are buried deep underground in hardened facilities across Iran.

Defense Daily reports today that Northrop-Grumman is making rapid progress in bringing on board a new weapon. Here is its dispatch based upon an interview with Harry Heimple, a company spokesman:

By next year a 30,000-pound bomb capable of blasting into subterranean tunnels will begin operating in the Air Force’s bomber fleet, according to industry officials.

The Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) built by Boeing will be integrated by Northrop Grumman on both the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber and the B-52 Stratofortress. . .

The B-2A can carry two MOPs, one in each of its weapon bays. The munition Northrop Grumman calls “like” the Joint Direct Attack Munition with a guidance system aided by the Global Positioning System, MOP contains more than 5,300 pounds of conventional explosives inside of a 20.5-foot-long steel enclosure. The weapon is said to be able to penetrate up to about 60 feet of dirt and concrete.

The mass makes it three and a half times as powerful as the Air Force’s heaviest weapons, Heimple said. After extensive testing to gauge whether it is better to drop multiple bombs in the same spot or to drop one enormous bomb, the Air Force has opted for the MOP, saying more mass is the right answer, Heimple said.

The first lethality test of the weapon took place at the end of March at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in a tunnel complex with helicopters and jeeps inside. The bomb was placed nose-down in the complex and fired. The Air Force measured the blast for pressure and temperature.

“The results were pretty amazing,” Heimple said.

The private sector is thus doing things that are far more significant than the laughter on Morningside Heights which greeted the Iranian president’s remarks about homosexuality. Since Columbia continues to exclude ROTC from campus, the complacent tittering at Ahmadinejad is the university’s only contribution, thus far, to our common defense.

 

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.