Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 10, 2011

Video: NPR Promised to Hide ‘Muslim Organization’ from Federal Scrutiny

A National Public Radio fundraising executive told an activist posing as a member of a Muslim organization that NPR could accept his donation anonymously in order to shield his group from a federal-government audit, according to secretly recorded phone conversations released today:

New video released Thursday afternoon indicates National Public Radio intended to accept a $5 million donation from fictitious Muslim Brotherhood front group Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust — and that the publicly funded radio network might have helped MEAC make the donation anonymously to protect it from a federal government audit.

When a man posing as Ibrahim Kasaam asked, “It sounded like you were saying NPR would be able to shield us from a government audit, is that correct?” NPR’s senior director of institutional giving, Betsy Liley, responded, “I think that is the case, especially if you are anonymous. I can inquire about that.”

Betsey Liley, the senior director of Institutional Giving at NPR, made the statement during a phone call recorded by activist filmmaker James O’Keefe.

Liley followed up with the fake Muslim organization by e-mail, saying that “NPR can list MEAC as an anonymous donor in our database, which would mean we would not disclose the organization’s name. We do not publish a list of gifts, so it would not be an issue there.”

As the Daily Caller notes, the exchange contradicts NPR’s claim that it repeatedly refused a $5 million donation from the phony group.

“The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept,” NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm said on Tuesday.

The full video of the conversation between Liley and the activists can be watched here.

A National Public Radio fundraising executive told an activist posing as a member of a Muslim organization that NPR could accept his donation anonymously in order to shield his group from a federal-government audit, according to secretly recorded phone conversations released today:

New video released Thursday afternoon indicates National Public Radio intended to accept a $5 million donation from fictitious Muslim Brotherhood front group Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC) Trust — and that the publicly funded radio network might have helped MEAC make the donation anonymously to protect it from a federal government audit.

When a man posing as Ibrahim Kasaam asked, “It sounded like you were saying NPR would be able to shield us from a government audit, is that correct?” NPR’s senior director of institutional giving, Betsy Liley, responded, “I think that is the case, especially if you are anonymous. I can inquire about that.”

Betsey Liley, the senior director of Institutional Giving at NPR, made the statement during a phone call recorded by activist filmmaker James O’Keefe.

Liley followed up with the fake Muslim organization by e-mail, saying that “NPR can list MEAC as an anonymous donor in our database, which would mean we would not disclose the organization’s name. We do not publish a list of gifts, so it would not be an issue there.”

As the Daily Caller notes, the exchange contradicts NPR’s claim that it repeatedly refused a $5 million donation from the phony group.

“The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept,” NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm said on Tuesday.

The full video of the conversation between Liley and the activists can be watched here.

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Some Democrats Can’t Handle the Truth at Peter King Hearings

At the hearing today on domestic radicalization with the Muslim community, the Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee seemed to want to discuss anything but. “I am concerned that the focus of today’s hearing may increase the suspicion of the Muslim community, ultimately making us less safe,” said Rep. Keith Ellison in his testimony.

And so some members tried to change the subject. They brought up the Oklahoma City bombing. They brought up the recent shooting in Arizona. They noted that Christians and Jews have also been involved in terrorism.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee suggested that committee members “would be better off if we were to have a hearing speaking about the importance of human intelligence.”

Rep. Al Green had a different idea. “Because I love the American people, I want to say in clear concise terms, I have no problem discussing terrorism organizations that are rooted in religion,” he said. “Which is why I want to discuss the KKK. … Why not talk about the KKK today?”

Why not talk about the KKK? Well, for one thing, Green is about 140 years too later with that suggestion — it was congressional hearings on the Klan’s terrorism that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1871.

But honestly, if these other subjects were so pressing, then why didn’t Democrats call hearings on Timothy McVeigh, the Klan, and Christian radicalization back when they had control of the Homeland Security Committee last year? Or did they simply bring these suggestions up today in order to avoid discussion of the real issues?

“It may be right, but it doesn’t look right when we take on Islam, and we allow this to take place, and we don’t take the chance to tell the truth about the KKK and the problems with Christianity,” said Rep. Green today. “It doesn’t look right, Mr. [Zuhdi] Jasser, when we take on one religion with the exclusion of others.”

Maybe it doesn’t. But it’s not the job of our Homeland Security Committee members to avoid hard truths because they’re worried about whether it “looks right.” And until certain lawmakers realize this, it will be impossible to have an honest discussion in Congress on the issue of Islamic radicalization.

At the hearing today on domestic radicalization with the Muslim community, the Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee seemed to want to discuss anything but. “I am concerned that the focus of today’s hearing may increase the suspicion of the Muslim community, ultimately making us less safe,” said Rep. Keith Ellison in his testimony.

And so some members tried to change the subject. They brought up the Oklahoma City bombing. They brought up the recent shooting in Arizona. They noted that Christians and Jews have also been involved in terrorism.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee suggested that committee members “would be better off if we were to have a hearing speaking about the importance of human intelligence.”

Rep. Al Green had a different idea. “Because I love the American people, I want to say in clear concise terms, I have no problem discussing terrorism organizations that are rooted in religion,” he said. “Which is why I want to discuss the KKK. … Why not talk about the KKK today?”

Why not talk about the KKK? Well, for one thing, Green is about 140 years too later with that suggestion — it was congressional hearings on the Klan’s terrorism that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1871.

But honestly, if these other subjects were so pressing, then why didn’t Democrats call hearings on Timothy McVeigh, the Klan, and Christian radicalization back when they had control of the Homeland Security Committee last year? Or did they simply bring these suggestions up today in order to avoid discussion of the real issues?

“It may be right, but it doesn’t look right when we take on Islam, and we allow this to take place, and we don’t take the chance to tell the truth about the KKK and the problems with Christianity,” said Rep. Green today. “It doesn’t look right, Mr. [Zuhdi] Jasser, when we take on one religion with the exclusion of others.”

Maybe it doesn’t. But it’s not the job of our Homeland Security Committee members to avoid hard truths because they’re worried about whether it “looks right.” And until certain lawmakers realize this, it will be impossible to have an honest discussion in Congress on the issue of Islamic radicalization.

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The World That Got Away from Obama

The model of the world Barack Obama held in his mind upon taking office is no more. The states of Europe, with their bottomless entitlement structures, were the ideals. The countries of the Middle East, with their post-colonial resentments, were America’s moral creditors. In Strasbourg, France, he told a crowd soon after becoming president, “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world.” And in his famed Cairo speech, Obama explained that between the Muslim world and the West, “tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies.”

Corralled by our European betters on one side and our Muslim victims on the other, we would sulk forward into a less conspicuously American century. This meant bringing our social priorities in line with Europe’s and making our amends with Muslim leaders who had hitherto been denied the respect they self-evidently deserved. Ambitious legislation would blanket America in government-run health care, and despotic regimes would hear few American complaints about human rights. Interventionism at home and bashfulness abroad. This was what world opinion, to which Obama was obsessively attuned, demanded of America. “I’m here to listen, to share ideas and to jointly, as one of many NATO allies, help shape our vision for the future,” he told the crowd in Strasbourg. “Too often the United States starts by dictating,” he told a reporter from the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel. “So let’s listen.” Read More

The model of the world Barack Obama held in his mind upon taking office is no more. The states of Europe, with their bottomless entitlement structures, were the ideals. The countries of the Middle East, with their post-colonial resentments, were America’s moral creditors. In Strasbourg, France, he told a crowd soon after becoming president, “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world.” And in his famed Cairo speech, Obama explained that between the Muslim world and the West, “tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies.”

Corralled by our European betters on one side and our Muslim victims on the other, we would sulk forward into a less conspicuously American century. This meant bringing our social priorities in line with Europe’s and making our amends with Muslim leaders who had hitherto been denied the respect they self-evidently deserved. Ambitious legislation would blanket America in government-run health care, and despotic regimes would hear few American complaints about human rights. Interventionism at home and bashfulness abroad. This was what world opinion, to which Obama was obsessively attuned, demanded of America. “I’m here to listen, to share ideas and to jointly, as one of many NATO allies, help shape our vision for the future,” he told the crowd in Strasbourg. “Too often the United States starts by dictating,” he told a reporter from the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel. “So let’s listen.”

Is the president still listening?  What we hear now is that the political and geo-strategic calculations of Barack Obama are obsolete. In 2009, Europe was presented with the tab for the continent-wide spa service it had become. Standing before the abyss of insolvency, leaders instituted sharp austerity measures, which made Europe suddenly look a lot more like America. Tuitions were no longer on the house; retirement ages were raised; and workweeks were extended. Instead of getting a free lunch, Europeans washed dishes. At the same time that Barack Obama proposed an international European-style spendathon, Europe discovered thrift and told him to take his gauche prodigality elsewhere. While Germany, the biggest saver of the bunch, slashed its way back to health, the U.S. mountain of debt hit unthinkable new heights.

And then news started trickling in from the Muslim world. A spasm here, a shake-up there. By the start of 2011, the despotic status quo of the Middle East to which Obama had deferred was crumbling. Most important, whatever comes of the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and beyond, they were decidedly not anti-Western in nature. The “colonialism” to which Obama attributed so much Arab suffering played no role in the protesters’ revolutionary narratives. Arabs do not want America to apologize or pay historical damages. They want their leaders gone, and many are ready for U.S. help.

Europe is not what Obama thought it was; nor is the Muslim world. Nothing so embodies the twin mockery of Obama’s original vision as today’s news that French President Nicolas Sarkozy might soon call for European airstrikes on Muammar Qaddafi’s command headquarters. Decadent, peace-loving Europe is now tightening the belt at home only to beat the U.S. to bombing the bad guys. And for the anti-imperialist Libyans, Western firepower won’t come a moment too soon.

The man who was to knowingly shepherd Americans through historic change has come to a dead stop while the world around him transforms in ways he cannot negotiate. When Obama spoke of Europe’s underappreciated leadership role, he wasn’t envisioning France out-hawking the U.S. on regime change. Despite the constant blare from a world turned upside down, one gets the sense that the Obama Listening Tour ended a long time ago. The administration responds to each day’s news as though things would right themselves if only George W. Bush would leave office.

The inversion of Barack Obama’s world means ultimately that where he saw a place for American humility, American leadership must re-enter. He is fond of offering the formulation whereby the fate of country X must be decided by the people of country X. But as we see now, the fate of country X is often placed partially in the hands of country Y. For today, that’s Sarkozy’s somewhat Americanized France. Tomorrow, countries Y and Z might not be nearly as palatable.

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Pro-Israel Group Calls on the Jewish Federation to Reconsider Its Funding of Anti-Israel Theater

An organization calling itself Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art (COPMA) has called on the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Jewish Federation to reconsider its funding of a local theater that has put on anti-Israel plays.

“It is critical that the Federation establish guidelines for withholding funding from partner agencies that engage in political propaganda and activism denigrating Israel and undermining its legitimacy as a strong, secure and independent Jewish State,” said COPMA in a letter to Susie Gelman, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

COPMA was referring specifically to Theater J, a playhouse that has “become a platform for political activism that expresses hostility and antipathy towards the State of Israel and little regard for its security,” according to the letter.

COPMA’s message was in stark contrast to the letters to the editor published yesterday in the Washington Jewish Week, a newspaper with close ties to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Recently, the WJW has been criticized for allegedly allowing the federation to exert control over its editorial content.

“While members of the Jewish community may not agree with the messaging in every production at Theatre J, it is critical that in a community as diverse as ours, everyone’s opinion be heard,” wrote Jocelyn B. Krifcher in one letter. “I call upon my fellow community members to stand behind and support the good work that our Federation does here in the Greater Washington area, in Israel and around the world.”

In another letter, Washington resident Alfred Munzer defended one of Theater J’s anti-Israel plays, saying that it “demonstrates that Israel is a democratic, open society that encourages confronting difficult and painful issues.”

For more information on Theater J’s controversial performances, check out this earlier post.

An organization calling itself Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art (COPMA) has called on the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Jewish Federation to reconsider its funding of a local theater that has put on anti-Israel plays.

“It is critical that the Federation establish guidelines for withholding funding from partner agencies that engage in political propaganda and activism denigrating Israel and undermining its legitimacy as a strong, secure and independent Jewish State,” said COPMA in a letter to Susie Gelman, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

COPMA was referring specifically to Theater J, a playhouse that has “become a platform for political activism that expresses hostility and antipathy towards the State of Israel and little regard for its security,” according to the letter.

COPMA’s message was in stark contrast to the letters to the editor published yesterday in the Washington Jewish Week, a newspaper with close ties to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Recently, the WJW has been criticized for allegedly allowing the federation to exert control over its editorial content.

“While members of the Jewish community may not agree with the messaging in every production at Theatre J, it is critical that in a community as diverse as ours, everyone’s opinion be heard,” wrote Jocelyn B. Krifcher in one letter. “I call upon my fellow community members to stand behind and support the good work that our Federation does here in the Greater Washington area, in Israel and around the world.”

In another letter, Washington resident Alfred Munzer defended one of Theater J’s anti-Israel plays, saying that it “demonstrates that Israel is a democratic, open society that encourages confronting difficult and painful issues.”

For more information on Theater J’s controversial performances, check out this earlier post.

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Barack Obama’s America

According to AFP, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will propose air strikes on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s command headquarters to EU leaders. At an EU summit on the Libyan crisis, he will propose “striking an extremely limited number of points which are the source of the most deadly operations” by forces loyal to Qaddafi, the source said today. The three sites being considered are Qaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia command headquarters in Tripoli; a military air base in Syrte, east of Tripoli; and an air base in Sebha, in the south, according to the report.

Contrast this development with this Washington Post story today titled “On Libya, Obama willing to let allies take the lead,” which begins this way: “President Obama is content to let other nations publicly lead the search for solutions to the Libyan conflict, his advisers say, a stance that reflects the more humble tone he has sought to bring to U.S. foreign policy but one that also opens him to criticism that he is a weak leader.”

The Post also reports that Britain and France are drafting the no-fly zone resolution for possible consideration by the Security Council — “[b]ut it remains unclear where Obama stands on the issue…”

Charles Krauthammer wrote an essay in 2009 that is worth rereading. Among his arguments is that the current foreign policy of the United States is an exercise in contraction, one that began with the demolition of the moral foundation of American dominance, “the fundamental consequence of which is to effectively undermine any moral claim that America might have to world leadership, as well as the moral confidence that any nation needs to have in order to justify to itself and to others its position of leadership.”

According to the new dispensation, Krauthammer wrote, “having forfeited the mandate of heaven — if it ever had one — a newly humbled America now seeks a more modest place among the nations, not above them.”

But it seems as if Obama, at least on Libya, is doing one better than having America take a place among the nations. We are, in fact, behind the nations of the world.

France – and not just France — is showing far more leadership on the world stage than the United States.

Welcome to Barack Obama’s America.

According to AFP, French President Nicolas Sarkozy will propose air strikes on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s command headquarters to EU leaders. At an EU summit on the Libyan crisis, he will propose “striking an extremely limited number of points which are the source of the most deadly operations” by forces loyal to Qaddafi, the source said today. The three sites being considered are Qaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia command headquarters in Tripoli; a military air base in Syrte, east of Tripoli; and an air base in Sebha, in the south, according to the report.

Contrast this development with this Washington Post story today titled “On Libya, Obama willing to let allies take the lead,” which begins this way: “President Obama is content to let other nations publicly lead the search for solutions to the Libyan conflict, his advisers say, a stance that reflects the more humble tone he has sought to bring to U.S. foreign policy but one that also opens him to criticism that he is a weak leader.”

The Post also reports that Britain and France are drafting the no-fly zone resolution for possible consideration by the Security Council — “[b]ut it remains unclear where Obama stands on the issue…”

Charles Krauthammer wrote an essay in 2009 that is worth rereading. Among his arguments is that the current foreign policy of the United States is an exercise in contraction, one that began with the demolition of the moral foundation of American dominance, “the fundamental consequence of which is to effectively undermine any moral claim that America might have to world leadership, as well as the moral confidence that any nation needs to have in order to justify to itself and to others its position of leadership.”

According to the new dispensation, Krauthammer wrote, “having forfeited the mandate of heaven — if it ever had one — a newly humbled America now seeks a more modest place among the nations, not above them.”

But it seems as if Obama, at least on Libya, is doing one better than having America take a place among the nations. We are, in fact, behind the nations of the world.

France – and not just France — is showing far more leadership on the world stage than the United States.

Welcome to Barack Obama’s America.

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Media Targets in Good Company

A blog post by Michael White, writer for the UK Guardian, is making the rounds today. In it, White deplores the increasing intimidation of journalists by the Erdogan government in Turkey — but that’s not why it’s making the rounds. White’s title — “Media self-censorship: not just a problem for Turkey” — is the clue. The latter two-thirds of the piece are an insider’s confession that the Guardian “censors” itself too: it is (shock, shock) selective in whom it targets, whom it doesn’t, and why.

This passage near the end is, for obvious reasons, getting the most attention:

I have always sensed liberal, middle class ill-ease in going after stories about immigration, legal or otherwise, about welfare fraud or the less attractive tribal habits of the working class, which is more easily ignored altogether.

Toffs, including royal ones, Christians, especially popes, governments of Israel, and U.S. Republicans are more straightforward targets.

White points out that British journalists and editors kowtow to an atmosphere of political correctness, even though, unlike their Turkish counterparts, they don’t have to fear the proverbial “knock at the door” by agents of the government. He concludes with this lament: “As the old saying goes, we are all guilty.”

Framing guilt so as to diffuse it is an old trick; one doesn’t have the heart to be merciless about it. There are layers of truth in the post, however, some of them inadvertent. The greatest may be that White posits, in effect, an equivalence in the editorial situations of Turkish journalists, who are overtly intimidated by the state, and the Guardian’s journalists, who are intimidated mainly by the intellectual customs of the left. There are multiple ways to interpret this: one is that the intellectual customs weighing on journalists at the Guardian have the same editorial effect as state intimidation by the Islamist government of Turkey.

This is testable, to some extent. With regard to toffs, Christians, popes, and Republicans, the parallels may not always be evident. As distinct from the Guardian’s practice, I have seen Turkey’s English-language media be quite even-handed in covering them. But when it comes to the governments of Israel, I think White has a point.

A blog post by Michael White, writer for the UK Guardian, is making the rounds today. In it, White deplores the increasing intimidation of journalists by the Erdogan government in Turkey — but that’s not why it’s making the rounds. White’s title — “Media self-censorship: not just a problem for Turkey” — is the clue. The latter two-thirds of the piece are an insider’s confession that the Guardian “censors” itself too: it is (shock, shock) selective in whom it targets, whom it doesn’t, and why.

This passage near the end is, for obvious reasons, getting the most attention:

I have always sensed liberal, middle class ill-ease in going after stories about immigration, legal or otherwise, about welfare fraud or the less attractive tribal habits of the working class, which is more easily ignored altogether.

Toffs, including royal ones, Christians, especially popes, governments of Israel, and U.S. Republicans are more straightforward targets.

White points out that British journalists and editors kowtow to an atmosphere of political correctness, even though, unlike their Turkish counterparts, they don’t have to fear the proverbial “knock at the door” by agents of the government. He concludes with this lament: “As the old saying goes, we are all guilty.”

Framing guilt so as to diffuse it is an old trick; one doesn’t have the heart to be merciless about it. There are layers of truth in the post, however, some of them inadvertent. The greatest may be that White posits, in effect, an equivalence in the editorial situations of Turkish journalists, who are overtly intimidated by the state, and the Guardian’s journalists, who are intimidated mainly by the intellectual customs of the left. There are multiple ways to interpret this: one is that the intellectual customs weighing on journalists at the Guardian have the same editorial effect as state intimidation by the Islamist government of Turkey.

This is testable, to some extent. With regard to toffs, Christians, popes, and Republicans, the parallels may not always be evident. As distinct from the Guardian’s practice, I have seen Turkey’s English-language media be quite even-handed in covering them. But when it comes to the governments of Israel, I think White has a point.

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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Goes Ballistic at Radicalization Hearings

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee flipped out at the House Homeland Security Committee hearings on radicalization, telling the committee that it was “going in the direction of Arizona.”

“There is no redeeming factual information that we’re hearing today. It has already been tainted, this hearing,” she declared. “It has already been classified as an effort to demonize a whole broad base of human beings.”

“I am overwhelmed by this hearing and the lack of factual basis for it,” she continued, growing increasingly hysterical as her time ran out and Rep. Peter King tried to cut her off.

Maybe if Jackson Lee had actually listened to the testimony, she would have realized that witnesses were careful to make it clear that the problem is a tiny fraction of the Muslim community that enables radicalism, not the broad Muslim community as a whole.

Fortunately Melvin Bledsoe, whose young son converted to Islam and left the U.S. to engage in jihad, was there to steer Jackson Lee straight: “We’re not talking about all Muslims,” he informed her. “We’re talking about Muslim radicalization. I have family members who are Muslim.”

Bledsoe gets it. The other witnesses — including Muslim Americans — get it. So how come the Democrats still can’t grasp the concept that an investigation into radical political Islam has nothing to do with targeting the vast majority of the Muslim community?

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee flipped out at the House Homeland Security Committee hearings on radicalization, telling the committee that it was “going in the direction of Arizona.”

“There is no redeeming factual information that we’re hearing today. It has already been tainted, this hearing,” she declared. “It has already been classified as an effort to demonize a whole broad base of human beings.”

“I am overwhelmed by this hearing and the lack of factual basis for it,” she continued, growing increasingly hysterical as her time ran out and Rep. Peter King tried to cut her off.

Maybe if Jackson Lee had actually listened to the testimony, she would have realized that witnesses were careful to make it clear that the problem is a tiny fraction of the Muslim community that enables radicalism, not the broad Muslim community as a whole.

Fortunately Melvin Bledsoe, whose young son converted to Islam and left the U.S. to engage in jihad, was there to steer Jackson Lee straight: “We’re not talking about all Muslims,” he informed her. “We’re talking about Muslim radicalization. I have family members who are Muslim.”

Bledsoe gets it. The other witnesses — including Muslim Americans — get it. So how come the Democrats still can’t grasp the concept that an investigation into radical political Islam has nothing to do with targeting the vast majority of the Muslim community?

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No-Fly Zones Are Ineffective?

So says Secretary of State Clinton. As we near the 23rd anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons attacks on Iraqi Kurds at Halabja, however, four million Iraqi Kurds may beg to disagree. The United States, Great Britain, France, and Turkey assisted with the creation of a safe haven and no-fly zone in 1991, which we maintained until 2003. The Kurds today are generally the most pro-American people in the region, even if their government remains a problem. Sometimes, the price is worth it.

So says Secretary of State Clinton. As we near the 23rd anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons attacks on Iraqi Kurds at Halabja, however, four million Iraqi Kurds may beg to disagree. The United States, Great Britain, France, and Turkey assisted with the creation of a safe haven and no-fly zone in 1991, which we maintained until 2003. The Kurds today are generally the most pro-American people in the region, even if their government remains a problem. Sometimes, the price is worth it.

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The Washington Post Is Badly in Need of a Dictionary

In a Washington Post story today, reporter Scott Wilson writes this:

Bill Clinton was criticized for standing by during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and waiting for years to use force in the Balkans. He finally did so in Kosovo without a U.N. Security Council resolution, a case that is being examined by European countries and the Obama administration as they decide how to proceed in Libya.

George W. Bush took that unilateral approach even further following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Bush administration failed to secure a Security Council resolution before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and generally found international institutions more confining than useful in addressing America’s post-Sept. 11 problems.

Here’s the problem for Mr. Wilson: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition) defines unilateral as “done or undertaken by one person or party” (emphasis added). The reality is that the United States went to war against Iraq with the support of many nations: the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and 17 other countries that committed troops to Iraq. In fact, the coalition that liberated Iraq ranks among the largest war coalitions ever. So the charge of a “unilateral approach” is transparently false.

As for the UN’s not sanctioning the war to liberate Iraq: it would have been better to have the support of the UN than not. But no responsible country can allow the UN to veto military action that serves the nation’s security interests. Bear in mind, too, that of all the wars fought since the creation of the UN — and the figure is in excess of 100 — only two have been officially sanctioned: Korea in 1950 and the first Gulf War in 1990. And the situation with Korea was an anomaly: the Soviets were boycotting the Security Council at the time; otherwise, the Soviets would have issued a veto. This means that only one war in history — the first Gulf War — has had the unqualified backing of the UN.

Failing to gain the support of the United Nations is not the same as unilateralism — unless you’re a Washington Post reporter.

In a Washington Post story today, reporter Scott Wilson writes this:

Bill Clinton was criticized for standing by during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and waiting for years to use force in the Balkans. He finally did so in Kosovo without a U.N. Security Council resolution, a case that is being examined by European countries and the Obama administration as they decide how to proceed in Libya.

George W. Bush took that unilateral approach even further following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Bush administration failed to secure a Security Council resolution before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and generally found international institutions more confining than useful in addressing America’s post-Sept. 11 problems.

Here’s the problem for Mr. Wilson: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition) defines unilateral as “done or undertaken by one person or party” (emphasis added). The reality is that the United States went to war against Iraq with the support of many nations: the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and 17 other countries that committed troops to Iraq. In fact, the coalition that liberated Iraq ranks among the largest war coalitions ever. So the charge of a “unilateral approach” is transparently false.

As for the UN’s not sanctioning the war to liberate Iraq: it would have been better to have the support of the UN than not. But no responsible country can allow the UN to veto military action that serves the nation’s security interests. Bear in mind, too, that of all the wars fought since the creation of the UN — and the figure is in excess of 100 — only two have been officially sanctioned: Korea in 1950 and the first Gulf War in 1990. And the situation with Korea was an anomaly: the Soviets were boycotting the Security Council at the time; otherwise, the Soviets would have issued a veto. This means that only one war in history — the first Gulf War — has had the unqualified backing of the UN.

Failing to gain the support of the United Nations is not the same as unilateralism — unless you’re a Washington Post reporter.

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Peter King Hearings Highlight the Problem of CAIR in the Muslim Community

It’s now painfully clear why the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was so forcefully opposed to the House Homeland Security Committee’s hearings on homegrown radicalization in the Muslim-American community. According to many speakers at the hearing, one of the major obstacles to solving the problem of homegrown Islamic radicalization appears to be Muslim-American advocacy groups like CAIR.

CAIR, which has advised Muslim Americans not to talk to the FBI, is “attempting to drive a wedge between the Muslim community and the FBI,” Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) told the committee today.  “CAIR is counterproductive and it is hurting the American Muslim community,” he added.

One of the witnesses at the hearing, Abdirizak Bihi, told the committee that his own mosque attempted to prevent him from contacting law enforcement when his nephew and 20 other young people were sent overseas to join the global jihad.

“They threatened me, intimidated me,” said Bihi. He asserted that when his sister tried to find out what happened to her son, mosque leaders told her that “if you go to the FBI or the police, they don’t care about you because you are Muslim. They will just send you Guantanamo.”

According to Bihi, CAIR declined to give assistance to the families whose children went missing. “We never got help from our leaders, from our big Islamic organizations,” he said. “If we don’t have organizations and Imams and leaders that create threats and hurdles and intimidations, we can [deal with the radicalization problem] ourselves.”

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said that it’s become difficult to address radicalization because major Muslim-American advocacy organizations have portrayed any investigations into the problem as “Islamophobia.”

“It is a problem that we can only solve. Christians, Jews, non-Muslims, cannot solve Muslim radicalization,” said Jasser. “We can close our eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist, we can call anyone a bigot or Islamophobe for even talking about it.” But, of course, that will not make the problem go away.

It’s now painfully clear why the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was so forcefully opposed to the House Homeland Security Committee’s hearings on homegrown radicalization in the Muslim-American community. According to many speakers at the hearing, one of the major obstacles to solving the problem of homegrown Islamic radicalization appears to be Muslim-American advocacy groups like CAIR.

CAIR, which has advised Muslim Americans not to talk to the FBI, is “attempting to drive a wedge between the Muslim community and the FBI,” Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) told the committee today.  “CAIR is counterproductive and it is hurting the American Muslim community,” he added.

One of the witnesses at the hearing, Abdirizak Bihi, told the committee that his own mosque attempted to prevent him from contacting law enforcement when his nephew and 20 other young people were sent overseas to join the global jihad.

“They threatened me, intimidated me,” said Bihi. He asserted that when his sister tried to find out what happened to her son, mosque leaders told her that “if you go to the FBI or the police, they don’t care about you because you are Muslim. They will just send you Guantanamo.”

According to Bihi, CAIR declined to give assistance to the families whose children went missing. “We never got help from our leaders, from our big Islamic organizations,” he said. “If we don’t have organizations and Imams and leaders that create threats and hurdles and intimidations, we can [deal with the radicalization problem] ourselves.”

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said that it’s become difficult to address radicalization because major Muslim-American advocacy organizations have portrayed any investigations into the problem as “Islamophobia.”

“It is a problem that we can only solve. Christians, Jews, non-Muslims, cannot solve Muslim radicalization,” said Jasser. “We can close our eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist, we can call anyone a bigot or Islamophobe for even talking about it.” But, of course, that will not make the problem go away.

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$.99 Books

A crime writer with a name distinguished for political philosophy, John Locke, is making a bundle selling his novels as e-books for $.99 each. He dropped the price from $2.99 to $.99 on January 1 and sales picked up twenty-fold, to about 350,000 in the last two months.

This may well have profound consequences for the book-publishing industry in particular and the future of books in general. Until recently, authors needed publishers to edit, print, and distribute their work and would receive only 15 percent of the book’s nominal price as a royalty. But editors long ago stopped doing much editing. Computers and/or freelance copy editors can handle the copyediting, and computers and/or freelance designers can do the design work. Distribution is on the Internet. So who needs publishers?

People who today can’t find an agent and therefore can’t find a publisher (publishers long ago stopped reading unsolicited manuscripts) now have a new way to get their work before the public. To be sure, that will mean a lot of terrible books floating around cyberspace. As someone said, “Everyone has a great novel within him and most people should leave it there.”

But it will also mean that some great books will see the light of day that otherwise might not have. Astonishingly in retrospect, Tom Clancy could not get any big publishing house to touch The Hunt for Red October. It was finally published by a specialty house, United States Naval Institute Press, which probably sold more copies of it than it had of all its previous books put together.

So the book business is in for some very big changes that I suspect will move power away from publishers and agents and toward authors. But there will always be books. As Groucho Marx explained, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

A crime writer with a name distinguished for political philosophy, John Locke, is making a bundle selling his novels as e-books for $.99 each. He dropped the price from $2.99 to $.99 on January 1 and sales picked up twenty-fold, to about 350,000 in the last two months.

This may well have profound consequences for the book-publishing industry in particular and the future of books in general. Until recently, authors needed publishers to edit, print, and distribute their work and would receive only 15 percent of the book’s nominal price as a royalty. But editors long ago stopped doing much editing. Computers and/or freelance copy editors can handle the copyediting, and computers and/or freelance designers can do the design work. Distribution is on the Internet. So who needs publishers?

People who today can’t find an agent and therefore can’t find a publisher (publishers long ago stopped reading unsolicited manuscripts) now have a new way to get their work before the public. To be sure, that will mean a lot of terrible books floating around cyberspace. As someone said, “Everyone has a great novel within him and most people should leave it there.”

But it will also mean that some great books will see the light of day that otherwise might not have. Astonishingly in retrospect, Tom Clancy could not get any big publishing house to touch The Hunt for Red October. It was finally published by a specialty house, United States Naval Institute Press, which probably sold more copies of it than it had of all its previous books put together.

So the book business is in for some very big changes that I suspect will move power away from publishers and agents and toward authors. But there will always be books. As Groucho Marx explained, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

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A Great WaPo Editorial: We’ve Given Qaddafi Little Choice but to Die Trying

The Washington Post today has a stunning editorial on the unintended consequences of the administration’s odd handling of the Libya crisis:

The administration’s response to Moammar Gaddafi seems to be having the effect of encouraging him to wage a civil war while locking in the military advantage he holds.

Mr. Obama followed European leaders in declaring that Mr. Gaddafi must be removed from power; a White House account of his telephone call Tuesday with British Prime Minister David Cameron said “the common objective in Libya must be an immediate end to brutality and violence [and] the departure of Gaddafi from power as quickly as possible.” At the same time a U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Feb. 26 referred Mr. Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court for prosecution, meaning that he is likely to be subject to arrest if he leaves Libya.

It follows that the dictator has few choices other than to try to regain control of his country by force or die trying.

Read the whole thing.

The Washington Post today has a stunning editorial on the unintended consequences of the administration’s odd handling of the Libya crisis:

The administration’s response to Moammar Gaddafi seems to be having the effect of encouraging him to wage a civil war while locking in the military advantage he holds.

Mr. Obama followed European leaders in declaring that Mr. Gaddafi must be removed from power; a White House account of his telephone call Tuesday with British Prime Minister David Cameron said “the common objective in Libya must be an immediate end to brutality and violence [and] the departure of Gaddafi from power as quickly as possible.” At the same time a U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Feb. 26 referred Mr. Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court for prosecution, meaning that he is likely to be subject to arrest if he leaves Libya.

It follows that the dictator has few choices other than to try to regain control of his country by force or die trying.

Read the whole thing.

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A Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

The decision by the Wisconsin Senate to approve a bill (by an 18-1 vote) to strip public employees of some of their collective bargaining rights had its slightly comical side, including legislators who fled the state complaining that what Republicans did was an “affront to democracy.” It seems to me that when you’re an elected representative who leaves a state in order to prevent a vote on a bill, you’re not in a terribly strong position to lecture others on what is and what is not an “affront to democracy.”

This point aside, the procedural maneuver that was used (see here) was unfortunate but necessary. As Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said, “The people of Wisconsin elected us to come to Madison and do a job. Just because the Senate Democrats won’t do theirs doesn’t mean we won’t do ours.” And so Wisconsin Republicans did the deed. One of the broadest challenges to organized labor in our lifetime has succeeded.

This has provoked a furious reaction among labor supporters, who are vowing retribution, including efforts to recall some state GOP senators. We’ll see how well that works out. But the fact is that labor had better get used to the new reality we’re in. Record deficits and debt have reshaped the political landscape; our slumping economy and the prospect of a crushing fiscal situation have created the conditions for governors like Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, John Kasich, and others to engage in far-reaching, systemic reforms of government. Things that weren’t possible in the past are possible now. Governors are using this moment to implement policies of enormous reach and consequence. After all, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

The decision by the Wisconsin Senate to approve a bill (by an 18-1 vote) to strip public employees of some of their collective bargaining rights had its slightly comical side, including legislators who fled the state complaining that what Republicans did was an “affront to democracy.” It seems to me that when you’re an elected representative who leaves a state in order to prevent a vote on a bill, you’re not in a terribly strong position to lecture others on what is and what is not an “affront to democracy.”

This point aside, the procedural maneuver that was used (see here) was unfortunate but necessary. As Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said, “The people of Wisconsin elected us to come to Madison and do a job. Just because the Senate Democrats won’t do theirs doesn’t mean we won’t do ours.” And so Wisconsin Republicans did the deed. One of the broadest challenges to organized labor in our lifetime has succeeded.

This has provoked a furious reaction among labor supporters, who are vowing retribution, including efforts to recall some state GOP senators. We’ll see how well that works out. But the fact is that labor had better get used to the new reality we’re in. Record deficits and debt have reshaped the political landscape; our slumping economy and the prospect of a crushing fiscal situation have created the conditions for governors like Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, John Kasich, and others to engage in far-reaching, systemic reforms of government. Things that weren’t possible in the past are possible now. Governors are using this moment to implement policies of enormous reach and consequence. After all, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

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The CIA’s Moral Equivalence on Israel

Robert Grenier, who held senior positions in the CIA under President George W. Bush, has penned a screed for Al Jazeera depicting Israel as a rogue state, with no moral standing in the democratic world. Grenier seems aghast at the idea that, after the Hamas victory in Palestinian elections and Hezbollah’s creeping coup in Lebanon, anyone should express suspicions about Islamist groups backed by armed thugs participating in polls.

More disturbing than Grenier’s piece and his choice of forums in which to make it is that in the group-think world of the CIA, it is such policy analysis that now wins promotions and makes careers.

Robert Grenier, who held senior positions in the CIA under President George W. Bush, has penned a screed for Al Jazeera depicting Israel as a rogue state, with no moral standing in the democratic world. Grenier seems aghast at the idea that, after the Hamas victory in Palestinian elections and Hezbollah’s creeping coup in Lebanon, anyone should express suspicions about Islamist groups backed by armed thugs participating in polls.

More disturbing than Grenier’s piece and his choice of forums in which to make it is that in the group-think world of the CIA, it is such policy analysis that now wins promotions and makes careers.

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Knesset to Investigate J Street’s Claim to Be ‘Pro-Israel’

Israeli lawmakers are tired of J Street’s portraying itself as a “pro-Israel” lobbying group, and they’ve decided to hold a hearing next week to investigate J Street’s claims.

The Knesset hearing is being called by Kadima MK Otniel Schneller — an interesting development, since Kadima has traditionally had friendlier relations with J Street than any other Israeli political party.

“I asked for the hearing not because of the content of J Street’s beliefs, but because I want to look into the commitment of Jewish love and support for Israel. If they don’t love and support Israel, then they should not present themselves as pro-Israel,” Schneller said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

And Schneller already seems to have drawn some conclusions about J Street’s “love” for the Jewish state.

“[I]f they say that if Israel accepts our radical left-wing diplomatic positions, then we love Israel — it is a conditional love,” said the Kadima MK. “If you don’t accept our ideas, then we will support Iran or the Palestinian Authority. I don’t want love like that. Don’t love me at all.” Read More

Israeli lawmakers are tired of J Street’s portraying itself as a “pro-Israel” lobbying group, and they’ve decided to hold a hearing next week to investigate J Street’s claims.

The Knesset hearing is being called by Kadima MK Otniel Schneller — an interesting development, since Kadima has traditionally had friendlier relations with J Street than any other Israeli political party.

“I asked for the hearing not because of the content of J Street’s beliefs, but because I want to look into the commitment of Jewish love and support for Israel. If they don’t love and support Israel, then they should not present themselves as pro-Israel,” Schneller said, according to the Jerusalem Post.

And Schneller already seems to have drawn some conclusions about J Street’s “love” for the Jewish state.

“[I]f they say that if Israel accepts our radical left-wing diplomatic positions, then we love Israel — it is a conditional love,” said the Kadima MK. “If you don’t accept our ideas, then we will support Iran or the Palestinian Authority. I don’t want love like that. Don’t love me at all.”

According to Likud member Danny Danon, the chairperson of the committee holding the investigation, the committee will call on Kadima chair Tzipi Livni and the MKs who participated in the J Street conference to testify.

And it sounds like the hearing will focus on some of the more controversial political positions that J Street has taken recently.

“The fact that J Street fought against the sanctions that the United States wants to place against Iran is very, very serious in my eyes, as is the fact that they acted against the American veto,” he said.

During the midterms, we saw congressional candidates lose elections partially because of their support for J Street. But is this a sign that J Street is now starting to hurt politicians on an international level?

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Message to Peter Beinart: It’s OK to Have an Unexpressed Thought

Peter Beinart writes this:

[Rep. Peter King] … will hold hearings this week on terrorism by American Muslims. Think about that for a second. King isn’t holding hearings on domestic terrorism; he’s holding hearings on domestic terrorism by one religious group. Is most American terrorism Muslim terrorism? Actually, no. Over the last decade or so, there’s been at least as much domestic terrorism by folks like Timothy McVeigh, Theodore Kaczynski, Eric Rudolph (who bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics), Bruce Edwards Ivins (the main suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks), and most recently, Jared Lee Loughner. But even if American Muslims are statistically more likely to commit terrorism than non-Muslims, it is still wrong to define the problem in religious terms. I’m pretty sure that in the 1950s, Jews—given their overrepresentation in the American Communist Party—were overrepresented as Soviet spies. Italians may have been overrepresented in organized crime. Yet for a member of Congress to define either Soviet subversion or organized crime as the province of a particular religious or ethnic group would still have been wrong.

But wait, you say, there’s a difference: It wasn’t their Jewishness that made Jews disproportionately join the Communist Party or their Italianness that made Italians disproportionately join the Mafia. Well, in a sense, it was. At a certain moment in time, certain aspects of Jewish-American or Italian-American sociology disproportionately predisposed Jews and Italians to certain problematic behavior. That may be true for Muslims today, but what the government should be targeting is the behavior, not the religious or ethnic group.

This argument is quite stupid.

Political Islam is a real and lethal phenomenon. Those who are carrying out attacks, like Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood killer, and Faisal Shahzad, who was charged in the attempted bombing in Times Square, are doing so in the name of Islam. The problem therefore inherently defines itself in religious terms, making it qualitatively different from the examples Beinart uses. There is nothing analogous to Islamism in Christianity or Judaism right now. Now you can believe, as I do, that al-Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam is perverted and corrupting — but to deny the role political Islam plays in terrorism is delusional. Read More

Peter Beinart writes this:

[Rep. Peter King] … will hold hearings this week on terrorism by American Muslims. Think about that for a second. King isn’t holding hearings on domestic terrorism; he’s holding hearings on domestic terrorism by one religious group. Is most American terrorism Muslim terrorism? Actually, no. Over the last decade or so, there’s been at least as much domestic terrorism by folks like Timothy McVeigh, Theodore Kaczynski, Eric Rudolph (who bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics), Bruce Edwards Ivins (the main suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks), and most recently, Jared Lee Loughner. But even if American Muslims are statistically more likely to commit terrorism than non-Muslims, it is still wrong to define the problem in religious terms. I’m pretty sure that in the 1950s, Jews—given their overrepresentation in the American Communist Party—were overrepresented as Soviet spies. Italians may have been overrepresented in organized crime. Yet for a member of Congress to define either Soviet subversion or organized crime as the province of a particular religious or ethnic group would still have been wrong.

But wait, you say, there’s a difference: It wasn’t their Jewishness that made Jews disproportionately join the Communist Party or their Italianness that made Italians disproportionately join the Mafia. Well, in a sense, it was. At a certain moment in time, certain aspects of Jewish-American or Italian-American sociology disproportionately predisposed Jews and Italians to certain problematic behavior. That may be true for Muslims today, but what the government should be targeting is the behavior, not the religious or ethnic group.

This argument is quite stupid.

Political Islam is a real and lethal phenomenon. Those who are carrying out attacks, like Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood killer, and Faisal Shahzad, who was charged in the attempted bombing in Times Square, are doing so in the name of Islam. The problem therefore inherently defines itself in religious terms, making it qualitatively different from the examples Beinart uses. There is nothing analogous to Islamism in Christianity or Judaism right now. Now you can believe, as I do, that al-Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam is perverted and corrupting — but to deny the role political Islam plays in terrorism is delusional.

The U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is now hiding out in Yemen, preached to several of the September 11 hijackers in a mosque in San Diego and had a role in prompting the attempted Christmas Day airliner bombing. And Faisal Shahzad told investigators that Awlaki’s online lectures urging jihad as a religious duty helped inspire him to act. “[Awlaki’s] mix of scripture and vitriol has helped lure young Muslims into a dozen plots,” according to the New York Times.

Even Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview that the alarming rise in the number of Americans who are eager to kill their fellow citizens “is one of the things that keeps me up at night. The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens — raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born.”

So are we supposed to pretend that terrorist attacks on Americans aren’t rooted in a particular strand of Islam?

Of course, the fact that terrorism is being done in the name of Islam creates complications. Bigotry against all Muslims is a danger, which is why it’s crucial to point out time and again that the vast majority of Muslim Americans are patriotic people who have no sympathy for those trying to killer their fellow citizens. But with these clarifications in place, it would be insane to refuse to look into domestic terrorism because a noxious form of Islam is the radicalizing agent. It’s one thing if political correctness leads to silliness on university campuses; it’s quite another if it has deadly implications.

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Will Obama Send Libyan Students Home?

Many Libyan students studying in the United States oppose the sociopathic regime of Muammar Qaddafi. Mohamed ElJahmi e-mails that Libyan External Security has terminated the scholarships of 1,100 students because they participated in peaceful rallies against government violence in that North African country. The Libyan regime has labeled the students “vagabonds and traitors, who are collaborators with colonialism.”

There is no diplomatic way to put it: if President Obama sends these students home, he will, in effect, be an accessory to murder.

Perhaps the State Department should take the money that once ran the American Embassy in Tripoli and use it to help these promising students finish their education in America.

Many Libyan students studying in the United States oppose the sociopathic regime of Muammar Qaddafi. Mohamed ElJahmi e-mails that Libyan External Security has terminated the scholarships of 1,100 students because they participated in peaceful rallies against government violence in that North African country. The Libyan regime has labeled the students “vagabonds and traitors, who are collaborators with colonialism.”

There is no diplomatic way to put it: if President Obama sends these students home, he will, in effect, be an accessory to murder.

Perhaps the State Department should take the money that once ran the American Embassy in Tripoli and use it to help these promising students finish their education in America.

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On Arming Those Libyan Rebels

Max Boot has argued that arming the Libyan rebels may be the best way to ensure that a prolonged conflict in that country doesn’t flood the world’s black market with arms. I am agnostic on this point: the world’s black market is flooded with arms in any case, and if I believed it was necessary or desirable to arm the rebels — though certainly not with surface-to-air missiles, a possibility against which Max rightly cautions — I would not be dissuaded by the reality that at least some of the weapons would inevitably surface somewhere else.

But there is a curious coda to Max’s argument. Britain’s David Cameron has come out in favor of arming Libya’s rebels. Meanwhile, the world’s nations have just finished the first negotiating session of 2011 on the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, a treaty that has been strongly pushed by Britain’s governments, of all colors. The U.S. administration is also on board, and the pace of progress — if progress it be — is so rapid that it is very likely that the treaty will be ready for signature in 2012. The stated goal of the treaty is to keep arms off the illicit market and out of the hands of those likely to abuse them. But by definition, states — thanks to the inherent right of self-defense — have the right to buy, while rebels do not.

The implications of this for Libya should be obvious, though they do not seem to be so to Mr. Cameron. It pains me to say it, but Muammar Qaddafi is still the head of a Libyan government that is recognized by an overwhelming majority of the world’s governments. Libya may have been expelled from the Human Rights Council, but it still sits in the General Assembly. Thus, under the treaty that Mr. Cameron is so keen on, it would certainly be a violation of Britain’s treaty commitments to arm Libya’s rebels, whereas China — for example — could argue that arming Qaddafi is legal and of no concern to anyone else. That, in fact, is pretty much what it has said in the past when it was caught selling guns to Zimbabwe’s Mugabe. Read More

Max Boot has argued that arming the Libyan rebels may be the best way to ensure that a prolonged conflict in that country doesn’t flood the world’s black market with arms. I am agnostic on this point: the world’s black market is flooded with arms in any case, and if I believed it was necessary or desirable to arm the rebels — though certainly not with surface-to-air missiles, a possibility against which Max rightly cautions — I would not be dissuaded by the reality that at least some of the weapons would inevitably surface somewhere else.

But there is a curious coda to Max’s argument. Britain’s David Cameron has come out in favor of arming Libya’s rebels. Meanwhile, the world’s nations have just finished the first negotiating session of 2011 on the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, a treaty that has been strongly pushed by Britain’s governments, of all colors. The U.S. administration is also on board, and the pace of progress — if progress it be — is so rapid that it is very likely that the treaty will be ready for signature in 2012. The stated goal of the treaty is to keep arms off the illicit market and out of the hands of those likely to abuse them. But by definition, states — thanks to the inherent right of self-defense — have the right to buy, while rebels do not.

The implications of this for Libya should be obvious, though they do not seem to be so to Mr. Cameron. It pains me to say it, but Muammar Qaddafi is still the head of a Libyan government that is recognized by an overwhelming majority of the world’s governments. Libya may have been expelled from the Human Rights Council, but it still sits in the General Assembly. Thus, under the treaty that Mr. Cameron is so keen on, it would certainly be a violation of Britain’s treaty commitments to arm Libya’s rebels, whereas China — for example — could argue that arming Qaddafi is legal and of no concern to anyone else. That, in fact, is pretty much what it has said in the past when it was caught selling guns to Zimbabwe’s Mugabe.

Of course, if China wishes to resupply Qaddafi, it will do so, treaty or no. China’s argument would be a farce, but it would be there for the making, as it rests on the “right to buy” that is central to the treaty. True, we could always renounce the treaty, or come up with an ingenious argument to explain why it does not apply to the particular rebels we wish to arm, though this would not stop the many NGOs lobbying for the treaty from squawking. But we should not get into the habit of signing treaties that we propose to ignore when convenient: it is dishonest, bad for diplomacy, and as a matter of practice we find it hard to do anyhow.

I very much doubt that Mr. Cameron has thought this through. He simply wishes to accomplish two incompatible aims, and fails to recognize their incompatibility, or the fact that he is promoting a treaty that will tie his hands — and the hands of a great many other democrats — down the road while not encumbering the bad guys one iota. I cannot for the life of me understand why any serious person would find this desirable. Sadly, the answer may simply be that, like American policy, British policy is not serious.

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For What Exactly Is Turkey a Model?

When Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, hosts jazz concerts and depicts Turkey as a modern, democratic model for the Middle East, he is increasingly at odds with reality. Turkey is among the world’s most anti-Semitic countries. The government that Tan represents subsidizes print runs of Mein Kampf and puts blood libel in the mass market. Tan himself has quipped about the “final solution” needed in the Middle East. Turkey is also consistently among the most anti-American countries. Whereas many Egyptians, Saudis, and Jordanians take pains to separate the American people from the U.S. government, most Turks simply hate us all.

While former American ambassadors continue to shill for Turkey as some sort of enlightened democracy, the country is backsliding into dictatorship. Last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Brownshirts staged middle-of-the-night raids on the homes of independent and critical journalists, taking several into custody. Turkey now ranks 138 out of 178 on Reporters Without Borders’s press freedom index. That puts it beyond Venezuela, Egypt, and Zimbabwe.

When President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton speak of Turkey as a model, someone might want to ask for what is Turkey a model? How to transform a democracy into a police state?

When Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, hosts jazz concerts and depicts Turkey as a modern, democratic model for the Middle East, he is increasingly at odds with reality. Turkey is among the world’s most anti-Semitic countries. The government that Tan represents subsidizes print runs of Mein Kampf and puts blood libel in the mass market. Tan himself has quipped about the “final solution” needed in the Middle East. Turkey is also consistently among the most anti-American countries. Whereas many Egyptians, Saudis, and Jordanians take pains to separate the American people from the U.S. government, most Turks simply hate us all.

While former American ambassadors continue to shill for Turkey as some sort of enlightened democracy, the country is backsliding into dictatorship. Last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Brownshirts staged middle-of-the-night raids on the homes of independent and critical journalists, taking several into custody. Turkey now ranks 138 out of 178 on Reporters Without Borders’s press freedom index. That puts it beyond Venezuela, Egypt, and Zimbabwe.

When President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton speak of Turkey as a model, someone might want to ask for what is Turkey a model? How to transform a democracy into a police state?

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