Commentary Magazine


Topic: Daniel Pipes

Backing Assad Is Not an Option

In the early days of the revolt against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, it was a little easier to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. The regime’s massacres of demonstrators and dissidents calling for an end to tyranny made it clear the world’s sympathy should be with the government’s opponents. But the assumption on the part of President Obama and his European allies that the ruthless Assad clan and its Alawite followers would meekly fold up its tents and leave the same way authoritarians in Egypt and Tunisia did was wildly over-optimistic. Since the U.S. rightly knew that Syria was a much tougher nut to crack than the Gaddafi regime in Libya, which they decided to take out as a humanitarian mission, the hope was that Assad would fall in due time, allowing a transition to a less murderous ruler in Damascus.

Unfortunately, Obama’s decision to wait and see was a colossal mistake. Assad and his backers had nowhere to go and showed they were prepared to kill as many people as possible to hang on. Tens of thousands of dead civilians later, something just as troubling has happened as the armed opposition to the regime is now dominated by jihadist forces, some of which are linked to al-Qaeda. Which means the debate about intervention in Syria has become a rather murky subject. But that hasn’t stopped the discussion that was enlivened this week by a couple of suggestions that pretty much covered the spectrum from a stance of dogged do-gooding altruism to dark cynicism.

Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Casey put the former position forward in a Politico op-ed. They want the U.S. to selectively back the least unattractive parts of the Syrian opposition while doing its best to oust the dictator. The latter was the work of scholar Daniel Pipes who wrote in the Washington Times to suggest that it was time to for the United States to think strategically and, astonishingly, back Assad’s bid to stay in power. Which of them is right? I’m not entirely comfortable with either position but if I really had to choose, Rubio and Casey’s proposal seems like the better option.

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In the early days of the revolt against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, it was a little easier to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. The regime’s massacres of demonstrators and dissidents calling for an end to tyranny made it clear the world’s sympathy should be with the government’s opponents. But the assumption on the part of President Obama and his European allies that the ruthless Assad clan and its Alawite followers would meekly fold up its tents and leave the same way authoritarians in Egypt and Tunisia did was wildly over-optimistic. Since the U.S. rightly knew that Syria was a much tougher nut to crack than the Gaddafi regime in Libya, which they decided to take out as a humanitarian mission, the hope was that Assad would fall in due time, allowing a transition to a less murderous ruler in Damascus.

Unfortunately, Obama’s decision to wait and see was a colossal mistake. Assad and his backers had nowhere to go and showed they were prepared to kill as many people as possible to hang on. Tens of thousands of dead civilians later, something just as troubling has happened as the armed opposition to the regime is now dominated by jihadist forces, some of which are linked to al-Qaeda. Which means the debate about intervention in Syria has become a rather murky subject. But that hasn’t stopped the discussion that was enlivened this week by a couple of suggestions that pretty much covered the spectrum from a stance of dogged do-gooding altruism to dark cynicism.

Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Casey put the former position forward in a Politico op-ed. They want the U.S. to selectively back the least unattractive parts of the Syrian opposition while doing its best to oust the dictator. The latter was the work of scholar Daniel Pipes who wrote in the Washington Times to suggest that it was time to for the United States to think strategically and, astonishingly, back Assad’s bid to stay in power. Which of them is right? I’m not entirely comfortable with either position but if I really had to choose, Rubio and Casey’s proposal seems like the better option.

The bipartisan pair of Rubio and Casey has the advantage of sounding reasonable while also attempting to put the United States on the side of the angels:

We recently introduced legislation that would help bring about such a change in U.S. policy. The bill would authorize additional humanitarian aid for the Syrian people, support for the political opposition, and non-lethal assistance for vetted elements of the armed opposition. It would seek to further isolate Assad by recommending additional sanctions against entities that still do business with his regime. The bill would also require a plan for addressing Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, so they cannot be used against civilians or Syria’s neighbors.

That sounds good, but as even the two admit in their piece, the difficulties facing any effort to deal Assad a knockout blow while also ensuring that he isn’t succeeded by an even worse regime are great. Vetting an opposition that is thoroughly infiltrated by Islamists is easier said than done. While there are people in Syria who want democracy, does anyone seriously believe they can prevail over jihadists even with the help of the West? Even more to the point, any ties between them and the West may turn out to be more of a liability than an advantage. Moreover, as our Abe Greenwald pointed out in his post on Syria this afternoon, there is no chance that the United States will have any real interest in nation-building in Syria after what is universally thought to be a disaster in Iraq, even if it was a noble and misunderstood endeavor.

Pipes takes on the issue from a completely different angle. He completely discounts the chance that the Syrian opposition can be cleaned up or even house-trained and views the prospect of an Islamist Syria, which would be heavily dependant on an Islamist Turkey, as a recipe for disaster for the United States. Rather than seeing the goal of American policy as ending the slaughter and pushing for democracy, the head of the Middle East Forum think tank urges us to view this conflict as being analogous to the conflict in the 1980s between Iran and Iraq. Pipes says in that war between two hateful, vicious governments, the smart play was to back whichever side was the weakest in order to keep the fighting going so as to weaken both.

Applying this same logic to Syria today finds notable parallels. Mr. Assad fills the role of Saddam Hussein, the brutal Baathist dictator who began the violence. The rebel forces resemble Iran — the initial victim getting stronger over time and posing an increasing Islamist danger. Continued fighting endangers the neighborhood. Both sides engage in war crimes and pose a danger to Western interests.

Yes, Mr. Assad’s survival benefits Tehran, the region’s most dangerous regime. However, a rebel victory would hugely boost the increasingly rogue Turkish government while empowering jihadis, and replace the Assad government with triumphant, inflamed Islamists. Continued fighting does less damage to Western interests than their taking power. There are worse prospects than Sunni and Shiite Islamists mixing it up, than Hamas jihadis killing Hezbollah jihadis, and vice versa. Better that neither side wins. 

That’s why he thinks the West should back Assad even though it’s the sort of advice that makes most observers gag. Pipes concedes that the West can’t stand by and let Assad continue slaughtering civilians so he suggests putting pressure on the two sides to behave according to the rules of law while threatening military strikes to punish those who fail to do so. But this idea is every bit as problematic as the formulas put forward by the do-gooders. That will only lead both sides to blame the West and leave it as vulnerable to being held responsible for the slaughter as a policy that backs the rebels.

Pipes is right that those who want to back the rebels are hopelessly naïve about the problems inherent in such a strategy. He’s also correct to point out that the only really good outcome in Syria would be one in which the friends of Iran and the friends of Turkey are both left exhausted and without complete control of the country.

But his call for Americans to think strategically ignores the fact that it is impossible for the United States to have an unabashedly cynical approach to any foreign policy problem. An America that disdains the cause of democracy, even in a country where democracy is not a viable option, is an America that has lost its moral compass and will soon lose whatever influence it has left. A policy that even tacitly countenanced the continuation of Assad in power would be a deathblow to our credibility as a nation. It would also be wrong. Pipes, who has a long record of astute analysis of the Middle East, understands just how evil the Assad regime has been. It is possible to argue that leaving Assad in power prior to the Arab Spring was the least bad option in Syria. But after his murderous role in the civil war of the past three years, it is simply not possible for the United States to even think about associating itself with him.

The fact is there are no good choices left to President Obama in Syria and haven’t been since he first passed on intervention when it might have done some good. Taking a chance on picking winners among the Syrian opposition is a long shot that will probably fail. But betting on Assad is a guaranteed disaster. As much as I think Rubio and Casey’s recommendations are based more on hope than serious analysis, Pipes’s proposal is simply a non-starter.

Like it or not, America’s only choices in Syria consist of the following: continuing to stand on the sidelines or a more robust effort on behalf of the rebels. Neither strikes me as smart, but at least the Rubio-Casey idea has the advantage of being rooted in American values. For all of its logic and historical perspective, Pipes’s realpolitik tilt to Assad is incompatible with those values and therefore must be rejected out of hand.

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Syria Inaction Messier Than the Alternative

Last year’s Western decision to intervene in Libya prompted some debate, but the scale of the conflict and its fairly swift conclusion limited the debate to some extent. But the growing tally of atrocities and the thousands of casualties in Syria have necessarily amplified the arguments being conducted as both the United States and its European allies continue to stand aside from the fighting there. As the weeks go by and new outrages are reported, it is increasingly clear to even the optimists in the Obama administration that the Assad regime will not go unless they contribute materially–giving him the push. Consequently, the debate among informed observers about the wisdom of intervention is growing in intensity.

Among the loudest of voices opposing intervention is scholar Daniel Pipes, who writes in National Review to urge the West to stay out of the Syrian morass. While acknowledging the arguments that allowing civil strife there to continue might be dangerous, he argues that such a war might actually be in America’s interest so long as the U.S. doesn’t get dragged in. Walter Russell Mead is more equivocal about intervention than Pipes. But Mead writes in his blog at The American Interest that the humanitarian argument to be made on behalf of intervention is weaker than we think. Both make strong arguments, especially Mead, who acknowledges that there are no good answers here. He’s right about that, but the alternative of a long war there or an Assad victory is not an acceptable outcome.

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Last year’s Western decision to intervene in Libya prompted some debate, but the scale of the conflict and its fairly swift conclusion limited the debate to some extent. But the growing tally of atrocities and the thousands of casualties in Syria have necessarily amplified the arguments being conducted as both the United States and its European allies continue to stand aside from the fighting there. As the weeks go by and new outrages are reported, it is increasingly clear to even the optimists in the Obama administration that the Assad regime will not go unless they contribute materially–giving him the push. Consequently, the debate among informed observers about the wisdom of intervention is growing in intensity.

Among the loudest of voices opposing intervention is scholar Daniel Pipes, who writes in National Review to urge the West to stay out of the Syrian morass. While acknowledging the arguments that allowing civil strife there to continue might be dangerous, he argues that such a war might actually be in America’s interest so long as the U.S. doesn’t get dragged in. Walter Russell Mead is more equivocal about intervention than Pipes. But Mead writes in his blog at The American Interest that the humanitarian argument to be made on behalf of intervention is weaker than we think. Both make strong arguments, especially Mead, who acknowledges that there are no good answers here. He’s right about that, but the alternative of a long war there or an Assad victory is not an acceptable outcome.

Pipes is right to worry about the nature of a successor regime to that of Assad. Given what other so-called Arab Spring protests have led to elsewhere, his prediction of an Islamist government following the dictator is probably on target. And Mead does an excellent job of pointing out that the blowback from even an intervention that seemed as clean as that in Libya can be far greater than we think. The current troubles in Mali are a direct result of what happened in Libya, so the moral calculus there wasn’t as neat as some of us thought.

Mead is also correct that even the most successful of Western interventions will not give us a storybook ending. But as even he points out, the situation in Syria isn’t a purely humanitarian question. As much as he deplores the “Wilsonian” instincts of those of us who believe it is morally insupportable for the West to stand by and let thousands die when we can do something to stop it, he also understands that:

If we don’t act, others will. The arming of the Sunni opposition by Gulf Arabs, some with Salafi sympathies, will go on no matter what we think or say, and that is likely both to affect the balance of power within the Syrian opposition in ways we don’t like and to change what happens on the ground. At the same time, our strategic interest in pressuring Iran and in that way hoping to avoid a war between the U.S. and Iran makes the ouster of the Syrian regime a much more important goal than it might otherwise be.

Pipes’ arguments in favor of allowing a Syrian civil war to fester also are not convincing. Such a war might distract the bad guys there from committing enormities elsewhere as he suggests, but I also think he is way too optimistic about Iranians taking a lesson from Syria and starting a revolt against the ayatollahs. Nor do I believe that the blowback from Assad’s reign of terror will channel much Middle Eastern outrage against Moscow and Beijing even though it would be well-deserved.

The main argument in favor of action isn’t purely humanitarian, and it rests not so much on what we think will happen as a result of our intervention. Rather, it rests on what will happen if we don’t. Assad’s survival will mean not just more Syrian slaughter but will be a huge victory for his Iranian allies that will strengthen their position enormously. One way or another, the West needs to prevent that from happening. The reasons for not doing something about Syria are like those for not doing something about the Iranian nuclear threat. The consequences of intervention will be messy and possibly awful. Yet the alternative is far worse.

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Jews and Iran and Israel and Obama and America and Pipes and Frum and Medved and I

If you have an hour and a half, you can watch me, Daniel Pipes, David Frum, and Michael Medved at a Jewish Policy Center event in Dallas. I haven’t watched it. The audience seemed to like it. Maybe you will too. Who knows? It’s hot. You’re inside. What are you going to do instead, watch “Dancing with the Stars”? Give it a shot.

If you have an hour and a half, you can watch me, Daniel Pipes, David Frum, and Michael Medved at a Jewish Policy Center event in Dallas. I haven’t watched it. The audience seemed to like it. Maybe you will too. Who knows? It’s hot. You’re inside. What are you going to do instead, watch “Dancing with the Stars”? Give it a shot.

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More on Diana West

On Friday, I criticized Diana West’s defense of the U.S. military sniper who shot up a Qur’an in Baghdad. Over the weekend, Diana fired back at me on her blog. She begins:

Alas. Contentions, the blog of Commentary magazine, has a problem with this week’s column. Abe Greenwald writes:

Over on her blog, Diana West gets a little hysterical about the fallout over the U.S. military sniper who shot up a Qur’an in Bagdhad.

Nice, ad hominem opener.

She objects to the reprimand the soldier received and the general air of apology from the U.S.

Which included, just to refresh, a deferential public apology from Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond during which another US officer presented the assembled locals (likely insurgents, not long ago) with a brand new Koran after kissing it. Abe then quotes briefly from my column:

“Let’s play around some more with the story. Imagine if, during the Allied occupation of post-Nazi Germany, a GI had been discovered using “Mein Kampf” for target practice. Would Gen. George S. Patton have kissed a new copy of the Nazi bible as he presented it to a cadre of former Nazis?”

And then he writes:

That won’t do, Diana.

What won’t “do,” Abe–comparing Gen. Patton and “Mein Kampf” with Gen. Hammond and the Koran? Why not?”

Critics like to say that for neoconservatives it’s always 1938. So I take particular relish in pointing out to Diana that the 1938 framework in which she’s placed the war on terror is a functional nonstarter.

Yes, there are many nasty injunctions in the Qur’an. Yes, there are calls to anti-Semitism and supremacy. But Diana’s line of argument–that the West is up against nothing less than the Qur’an itself–is inevitably countered by one of two points. First, there are nasty parts in the foundational works of other major religions. Second, there are Qur’anic passages promoting humanity and understanding. This is rebutted in turn: “But there are more nasty bits in the Qur’an than in other holy books.” And once you’ve reached that less-than-stellar point, your crusade has lost a good deal of its moral clarity. If you’re going to wage wholesale war on an entire religion, you’ll need more than a tabulation showing that the religion’s core text is, on balance, nastier than the next.

Why are the Iraqi Kurds such reliable American allies? Why, last week, did a Turkish Muslim sit down with me for a glass of wine? After all, they read the same Qu’ran bearing the same proclamations about infidels and the same prohibition on alcohol. Religion is personal, fluid, mysterious. Yes, I know: the Qur’an is supposedly the direct word of God and therefore not open to interpretation. But in reality, it is interpreted and reinterpreted constantly. In various times and various locales, Muslims have given different parts of Qur’anic text different weight. Because of the U.S.’s indefatigable efforts on both the military and diplomatic fronts, we are currently witnessing the rejection of jihad among the Sunni and Shia of Iraq. Nothing spurs religious dynamism like major shifts in the political landscape. I have a hard time seeing how the unapologetic desecration of the Qur’an puts America on a better footing in the war on terror.

Diana goes on:

“I’m not sure whether Abe disputes my argument, but he certainly thinks it shouldn’t be made. Here’s why he says “that won’t do”:

While the Qur’an is sacred to our enemies in Iraq, it is also sacred to our allies in that country. Moreover, it is sacred to the millions of Muslims who are citizens of the United States, to say nothing of the thousands who serve in uniform.

Notice that this fact is given as a rationale for silence, not as a cause for concern.

Not silence, merely restraint from vandalism. Bluster about shooting up a Qur’an is no substitute for beneficial inquiry into the relationship between moderate and radical Islam. I’m proud to note that COMMENTARY does not shy away from exploring such questions at length. I refer Diana to “In Search of Moderate Muslims” by Joshua Muravchik and Charles P. Szrom in the February 2008 issue, and to these dissenting letters from Stephen Schwartz and COMMENTARY contributor Daniel Pipes.

I understand Diana’s concerns and I share some of them. But all in all it’s a good thing that the U.S. is not in the habit of waging war on religions. Such undertakings would contradict the noblest intentions of our Constitution. And on a purely strategic level, doing battle with Islam itself would surely lose us our most important allies. I always enjoy fielding the anti-war charge that America is trying to oppress Muslims worldwide: there’s not a shred of evidence to support it. And forfeiting that assurance would be the same thing as giving up the fight.

On Friday, I criticized Diana West’s defense of the U.S. military sniper who shot up a Qur’an in Baghdad. Over the weekend, Diana fired back at me on her blog. She begins:

Alas. Contentions, the blog of Commentary magazine, has a problem with this week’s column. Abe Greenwald writes:

Over on her blog, Diana West gets a little hysterical about the fallout over the U.S. military sniper who shot up a Qur’an in Bagdhad.

Nice, ad hominem opener.

She objects to the reprimand the soldier received and the general air of apology from the U.S.

Which included, just to refresh, a deferential public apology from Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond during which another US officer presented the assembled locals (likely insurgents, not long ago) with a brand new Koran after kissing it. Abe then quotes briefly from my column:

“Let’s play around some more with the story. Imagine if, during the Allied occupation of post-Nazi Germany, a GI had been discovered using “Mein Kampf” for target practice. Would Gen. George S. Patton have kissed a new copy of the Nazi bible as he presented it to a cadre of former Nazis?”

And then he writes:

That won’t do, Diana.

What won’t “do,” Abe–comparing Gen. Patton and “Mein Kampf” with Gen. Hammond and the Koran? Why not?”

Critics like to say that for neoconservatives it’s always 1938. So I take particular relish in pointing out to Diana that the 1938 framework in which she’s placed the war on terror is a functional nonstarter.

Yes, there are many nasty injunctions in the Qur’an. Yes, there are calls to anti-Semitism and supremacy. But Diana’s line of argument–that the West is up against nothing less than the Qur’an itself–is inevitably countered by one of two points. First, there are nasty parts in the foundational works of other major religions. Second, there are Qur’anic passages promoting humanity and understanding. This is rebutted in turn: “But there are more nasty bits in the Qur’an than in other holy books.” And once you’ve reached that less-than-stellar point, your crusade has lost a good deal of its moral clarity. If you’re going to wage wholesale war on an entire religion, you’ll need more than a tabulation showing that the religion’s core text is, on balance, nastier than the next.

Why are the Iraqi Kurds such reliable American allies? Why, last week, did a Turkish Muslim sit down with me for a glass of wine? After all, they read the same Qu’ran bearing the same proclamations about infidels and the same prohibition on alcohol. Religion is personal, fluid, mysterious. Yes, I know: the Qur’an is supposedly the direct word of God and therefore not open to interpretation. But in reality, it is interpreted and reinterpreted constantly. In various times and various locales, Muslims have given different parts of Qur’anic text different weight. Because of the U.S.’s indefatigable efforts on both the military and diplomatic fronts, we are currently witnessing the rejection of jihad among the Sunni and Shia of Iraq. Nothing spurs religious dynamism like major shifts in the political landscape. I have a hard time seeing how the unapologetic desecration of the Qur’an puts America on a better footing in the war on terror.

Diana goes on:

“I’m not sure whether Abe disputes my argument, but he certainly thinks it shouldn’t be made. Here’s why he says “that won’t do”:

While the Qur’an is sacred to our enemies in Iraq, it is also sacred to our allies in that country. Moreover, it is sacred to the millions of Muslims who are citizens of the United States, to say nothing of the thousands who serve in uniform.

Notice that this fact is given as a rationale for silence, not as a cause for concern.

Not silence, merely restraint from vandalism. Bluster about shooting up a Qur’an is no substitute for beneficial inquiry into the relationship between moderate and radical Islam. I’m proud to note that COMMENTARY does not shy away from exploring such questions at length. I refer Diana to “In Search of Moderate Muslims” by Joshua Muravchik and Charles P. Szrom in the February 2008 issue, and to these dissenting letters from Stephen Schwartz and COMMENTARY contributor Daniel Pipes.

I understand Diana’s concerns and I share some of them. But all in all it’s a good thing that the U.S. is not in the habit of waging war on religions. Such undertakings would contradict the noblest intentions of our Constitution. And on a purely strategic level, doing battle with Islam itself would surely lose us our most important allies. I always enjoy fielding the anti-war charge that America is trying to oppress Muslims worldwide: there’s not a shred of evidence to support it. And forfeiting that assurance would be the same thing as giving up the fight.

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Is Obama Hiding A Muslim Past?

Daniel Pipes offers the following provocation in the Jerusalem Post: What if it turns out that Barack Obama was a devout Muslim for several years in his childhood? Obama has repeatedly claimed that he has “always been a Christian” and has “never practiced Islam.” Yet the evidence has started to mount that this may not be entirely true.Apparently when he attended Catholic school growing up in Indonesia, he was registered there as a Muslim. People in Indonesia remember him not merely as a Muslim in name, but a devout, practicing one.

Given the effect of blurred memories and vested interests when describing a Presidential contender, we must be careful in drawing conclusions. Nor would it matter whether he was or was not a Muslim — especially as a child — so long as he didn’t try to cover it up. Pipes has it right when he says:

Obama’s having been born and raised a Muslim and having left the faith to become a Christian make him neither more nor less qualified to become president of the United States. But if he was born and raised a Muslim and is now hiding that fact, this points to a major deceit, a fundamental misrepresentation about himself that has profound implications about his character and his suitability as president.

Put more softly: Assuming the evidence continues to emerge, and Pipes’ surmises about Obama’s past are borne out, the question becomes: What kind of person covers up his past faith when running for office? Answer: The kind who instinctively tells people what they want to hear, even at the expense of the truth. But this may be big trouble as the campaign progresses. When he is asked if he breathed in the air of Islam at any point in his life, what will he say? “I didn’t inhale”?

Daniel Pipes offers the following provocation in the Jerusalem Post: What if it turns out that Barack Obama was a devout Muslim for several years in his childhood? Obama has repeatedly claimed that he has “always been a Christian” and has “never practiced Islam.” Yet the evidence has started to mount that this may not be entirely true.Apparently when he attended Catholic school growing up in Indonesia, he was registered there as a Muslim. People in Indonesia remember him not merely as a Muslim in name, but a devout, practicing one.

Given the effect of blurred memories and vested interests when describing a Presidential contender, we must be careful in drawing conclusions. Nor would it matter whether he was or was not a Muslim — especially as a child — so long as he didn’t try to cover it up. Pipes has it right when he says:

Obama’s having been born and raised a Muslim and having left the faith to become a Christian make him neither more nor less qualified to become president of the United States. But if he was born and raised a Muslim and is now hiding that fact, this points to a major deceit, a fundamental misrepresentation about himself that has profound implications about his character and his suitability as president.

Put more softly: Assuming the evidence continues to emerge, and Pipes’ surmises about Obama’s past are borne out, the question becomes: What kind of person covers up his past faith when running for office? Answer: The kind who instinctively tells people what they want to hear, even at the expense of the truth. But this may be big trouble as the campaign progresses. When he is asked if he breathed in the air of Islam at any point in his life, what will he say? “I didn’t inhale”?

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Pipes Sees Hope in Europe

COMMENTARY contributor Daniel Pipes has a piece in today’s Philadelphia Bulletin, in which he asserts that Western Europe is beginning to show promising signs of fighting off the spread of radical Islam on the continent.

Indeed, Europeans are visibly showing signs of impatience with creeping Sharia. The legislation in France that prohibits hijabs from public school classrooms signals the reluctance to accept Islamic ways, as are related efforts to ban burqas, mosques, and minarets. Throughout Western Europe, anti-immigrant parties are generally increasing in popularity.

There’s no question that Nicolas Sarkozy represents a new level of French courage in the face of Islamification. But he’s one man and these prohibitions on hijabs and similar measures seem never to be settled. There’s always some accusation of Islamophobia followed by a call for liberté and then a new round of legal wrangling. At this moment, Turkey (an EU hopeful) is practically on the verge of collapse over the question of whether or not to lift a ban on headscarves.

Furthermore, the anti-immigrant parties that pop up across Western Europe tend to be fascistic in nature. In Holland, where there are respectable anti-Islamist parties, young politicians often can’t afford the security required to stand for election or are simply not inclined to risk their lives.

Pipes is heartened by Pope Benedict XVI’s high-profile conversion of journalist Magdi Allam and by the release of Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ film “Fitna,” which unapologetically connects Qur’anic verse to images of Islamic terrorism. However, he doesn’t see the fact that there was no widespread violent response as promising.

This relatively constrained reaction points to the fact that Muslim threats sufficed to enforce censorship. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denounced Fitna and, after 3.6 million visitors had viewed it on the British website LiveLeak.com, the company announced that “Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, … Liveleak has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.”

It’s important that Americans get behind the efforts that Pipes commends. There’s no schadenfreude to be derived from watching Europe succumb to the forces of intimidation and moral relativism that allow for, say, the acceptance of “limited” sharia in England. We need Europe as a cultural, economic, and military ally. But I wish the European Spirit could give us a little more to rally behind than a convert and a 15-minute video.

COMMENTARY contributor Daniel Pipes has a piece in today’s Philadelphia Bulletin, in which he asserts that Western Europe is beginning to show promising signs of fighting off the spread of radical Islam on the continent.

Indeed, Europeans are visibly showing signs of impatience with creeping Sharia. The legislation in France that prohibits hijabs from public school classrooms signals the reluctance to accept Islamic ways, as are related efforts to ban burqas, mosques, and minarets. Throughout Western Europe, anti-immigrant parties are generally increasing in popularity.

There’s no question that Nicolas Sarkozy represents a new level of French courage in the face of Islamification. But he’s one man and these prohibitions on hijabs and similar measures seem never to be settled. There’s always some accusation of Islamophobia followed by a call for liberté and then a new round of legal wrangling. At this moment, Turkey (an EU hopeful) is practically on the verge of collapse over the question of whether or not to lift a ban on headscarves.

Furthermore, the anti-immigrant parties that pop up across Western Europe tend to be fascistic in nature. In Holland, where there are respectable anti-Islamist parties, young politicians often can’t afford the security required to stand for election or are simply not inclined to risk their lives.

Pipes is heartened by Pope Benedict XVI’s high-profile conversion of journalist Magdi Allam and by the release of Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ film “Fitna,” which unapologetically connects Qur’anic verse to images of Islamic terrorism. However, he doesn’t see the fact that there was no widespread violent response as promising.

This relatively constrained reaction points to the fact that Muslim threats sufficed to enforce censorship. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denounced Fitna and, after 3.6 million visitors had viewed it on the British website LiveLeak.com, the company announced that “Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, … Liveleak has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.”

It’s important that Americans get behind the efforts that Pipes commends. There’s no schadenfreude to be derived from watching Europe succumb to the forces of intimidation and moral relativism that allow for, say, the acceptance of “limited” sharia in England. We need Europe as a cultural, economic, and military ally. But I wish the European Spirit could give us a little more to rally behind than a convert and a 15-minute video.

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A Brave UK Muslim

The U.K. has seen a recent string of capitulations to radical Islam and its politically correct Western enablers. In a February 12 article in the Jerusalem Post, Daniel Pipes chronicled three events in one very bad week in England:

First, the UK government has decided that terrorism by Muslims in the name of Islam is actually unrelated to Islam, or even anti-Islamic.

[…]

Second, and again culminating several years of evolution, the British government now recognizes polygamous marriages.

[…]

Third, the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, endorsed applying portions of the Islamic law (the shari’a) in Great Britain.

Indeed, there is reason to suppose that a fair number of British lawmakers and clergy could get a tidy British shari’a system up and running before the Dems figure out who their nominee for President is. Which is why the following news is so important. The Evening Standard reports on a brave British Muslim who’s taking a stand against radicalization among England’s Muslims and the isolation that feeds it.

A leading Muslim figure has spoken out against plans for a 12,000-seat mosque next to the Olympic site.

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, who co-founded the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, says there is no need for another mosque in East London.

His opposition follows that of mayoral candidate Alan Craig – who found his own “obituary” posted on internet site YouTube after making his views known.

Dr Siddiqui, an Indian-born elder statesman, said: “We have too many mosques. I think it should not be built. What we need first is more integration between the existing mosques and the wider community.”

The “megamosque” in Newham is being planned by Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat, which the FBI has described as “a recruiting ground” for al Qaeda – a claim it denies. Shoebomber Richard Reid and 7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were members.

Dr. Siddiqui’s courage and honesty should be a source of great shame to the likes of Rowan Williams. As a Muslim, this man faces a far greater danger from his radical co-religionists than does the Archbishop. Yet he grasps the graver peril of allowing his country to give in to fanatics without a fight. While Williams deems shari’a inevitable, Dr. Siddiqui finds at least enough morale to take a stand. His proposition is hardly dramatic; he’s simply recognizing that there is a problem worthy of engagement. How encouraging it would be if Dr. Siddiqui’s call was the first in a hat trick of resistance to counter Britain’s bad week.

The U.K. has seen a recent string of capitulations to radical Islam and its politically correct Western enablers. In a February 12 article in the Jerusalem Post, Daniel Pipes chronicled three events in one very bad week in England:

First, the UK government has decided that terrorism by Muslims in the name of Islam is actually unrelated to Islam, or even anti-Islamic.

[…]

Second, and again culminating several years of evolution, the British government now recognizes polygamous marriages.

[…]

Third, the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, endorsed applying portions of the Islamic law (the shari’a) in Great Britain.

Indeed, there is reason to suppose that a fair number of British lawmakers and clergy could get a tidy British shari’a system up and running before the Dems figure out who their nominee for President is. Which is why the following news is so important. The Evening Standard reports on a brave British Muslim who’s taking a stand against radicalization among England’s Muslims and the isolation that feeds it.

A leading Muslim figure has spoken out against plans for a 12,000-seat mosque next to the Olympic site.

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, who co-founded the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, says there is no need for another mosque in East London.

His opposition follows that of mayoral candidate Alan Craig – who found his own “obituary” posted on internet site YouTube after making his views known.

Dr Siddiqui, an Indian-born elder statesman, said: “We have too many mosques. I think it should not be built. What we need first is more integration between the existing mosques and the wider community.”

The “megamosque” in Newham is being planned by Islamic group Tablighi Jamaat, which the FBI has described as “a recruiting ground” for al Qaeda – a claim it denies. Shoebomber Richard Reid and 7/7 bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were members.

Dr. Siddiqui’s courage and honesty should be a source of great shame to the likes of Rowan Williams. As a Muslim, this man faces a far greater danger from his radical co-religionists than does the Archbishop. Yet he grasps the graver peril of allowing his country to give in to fanatics without a fight. While Williams deems shari’a inevitable, Dr. Siddiqui finds at least enough morale to take a stand. His proposition is hardly dramatic; he’s simply recognizing that there is a problem worthy of engagement. How encouraging it would be if Dr. Siddiqui’s call was the first in a hat trick of resistance to counter Britain’s bad week.

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Obama Smear–The Hebrew Version

The Democratic race has fallen off the curb and into the gutter. Ynet News reports that an email making its way through the U.S. and Israel asserts that Barack Obama is a stealthy al Qaeda operative poised to topple the American government. Here’s perhaps the most distasteful aspect of this latest development: “One of the target audiences in the campaign is clearly the American Jewish community because the e-mail has also been sent out in Hebrew.”

In fact, this new smear is merely a Hebrew translation of the email that went around a month ago – the email that was actually penned by a (since jettisoned) Hillary Clinton Iowa county chair. With the non-stop identity carnival that is now the Obama and Clinton campaigns, this update on last month’s mini-scandal takes on the larger grotesqueness of the day.

This isn’t the first time the Obama-Muslim connection has come up. About a year ago, Daniel Pipes merely raised the question of Obama’s historical relationship to Islam, and the left-wing blogosphere went apoplectic. Where’s the outrage now that a Hillary supporter’s vulgar slander finds a second life through Jew-baiting?

The Democratic race has fallen off the curb and into the gutter. Ynet News reports that an email making its way through the U.S. and Israel asserts that Barack Obama is a stealthy al Qaeda operative poised to topple the American government. Here’s perhaps the most distasteful aspect of this latest development: “One of the target audiences in the campaign is clearly the American Jewish community because the e-mail has also been sent out in Hebrew.”

In fact, this new smear is merely a Hebrew translation of the email that went around a month ago – the email that was actually penned by a (since jettisoned) Hillary Clinton Iowa county chair. With the non-stop identity carnival that is now the Obama and Clinton campaigns, this update on last month’s mini-scandal takes on the larger grotesqueness of the day.

This isn’t the first time the Obama-Muslim connection has come up. About a year ago, Daniel Pipes merely raised the question of Obama’s historical relationship to Islam, and the left-wing blogosphere went apoplectic. Where’s the outrage now that a Hillary supporter’s vulgar slander finds a second life through Jew-baiting?

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Annapolis — Will It Matter At All?

Pray for low expectations when it comes the Annapolis summit, because then it will not lead inexorably to disaster. That seems to be the consensus to emerge from a very interesting symposium at jpost.com featuring (among others) Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz, his colleague Saul Singer, and Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum.

Horovitz: “The greater the expectations pinned on Annapolis, the more serious the dangers if it fails. And a stark failure, as Camp David 2000 proved, can unleash devastating terrorism, and deprive moderate forces of hope….For it to stand as a positive event, Annapolis has to be seen as a beginning — a beginning of a return to sanity first and foremost on the Palestinian side.”

Singer: “Annapolis won’t ‘fail’ because by the time it happens the standards for success will be set so low that they are, almost by definition, met.”

Pipes: “The consequences of Annapolis failing depend on whom the US government blames. If it basically faults the Palestinian side, as happened in 2000, then nothing much changes….But should the Bush administration primarily fault the Israeli side, watch out.”

The strangest aspect of the walk-up to Annapolis is that the only person really talking up the epoch-altering nature of the Annapolis summit is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert — the same fantasist over-promiser who vowed in the summer of 2006 that the war in Lebanon would lead to the destruction of Hezbollah.

“This is a good moment,” Olmert said on Sunday. “I am excited by the chance to contribute to our chances. I know all the excuses and arguments why not, but I believe – from the bottom of my heart – that the time has come. In this spirit, I will come to Annapolis; to extend my hand in friendship and good will to all those who come to the meeting, and I promise: the State of Israel will be there. Indeed, we will come with caution; we will examine every issue responsibly; we will consider every proposal sensitively; but we come in good will, happily and full of hope.”

A serious world leader does not offer dewy-eyed pronouncements like this just before he is to enter deadly serious negotations involving the most basic existential questions of his nation’s future. Managing expectations so that they do not come back to haunt your cause later is one of the most basic rules of diplomacy. Olmert, yet again, disappoints. Worse yet, he is behaving exactly as he behaved during the war last summer — as though he doesn’t know the first thing about what to do when the spotlight is shining on him and on Israel.

Pray for low expectations when it comes the Annapolis summit, because then it will not lead inexorably to disaster. That seems to be the consensus to emerge from a very interesting symposium at jpost.com featuring (among others) Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz, his colleague Saul Singer, and Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum.

Horovitz: “The greater the expectations pinned on Annapolis, the more serious the dangers if it fails. And a stark failure, as Camp David 2000 proved, can unleash devastating terrorism, and deprive moderate forces of hope….For it to stand as a positive event, Annapolis has to be seen as a beginning — a beginning of a return to sanity first and foremost on the Palestinian side.”

Singer: “Annapolis won’t ‘fail’ because by the time it happens the standards for success will be set so low that they are, almost by definition, met.”

Pipes: “The consequences of Annapolis failing depend on whom the US government blames. If it basically faults the Palestinian side, as happened in 2000, then nothing much changes….But should the Bush administration primarily fault the Israeli side, watch out.”

The strangest aspect of the walk-up to Annapolis is that the only person really talking up the epoch-altering nature of the Annapolis summit is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert — the same fantasist over-promiser who vowed in the summer of 2006 that the war in Lebanon would lead to the destruction of Hezbollah.

“This is a good moment,” Olmert said on Sunday. “I am excited by the chance to contribute to our chances. I know all the excuses and arguments why not, but I believe – from the bottom of my heart – that the time has come. In this spirit, I will come to Annapolis; to extend my hand in friendship and good will to all those who come to the meeting, and I promise: the State of Israel will be there. Indeed, we will come with caution; we will examine every issue responsibly; we will consider every proposal sensitively; but we come in good will, happily and full of hope.”

A serious world leader does not offer dewy-eyed pronouncements like this just before he is to enter deadly serious negotations involving the most basic existential questions of his nation’s future. Managing expectations so that they do not come back to haunt your cause later is one of the most basic rules of diplomacy. Olmert, yet again, disappoints. Worse yet, he is behaving exactly as he behaved during the war last summer — as though he doesn’t know the first thing about what to do when the spotlight is shining on him and on Israel.

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Today from the Archive

On the list of Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Honours was a knighthood for the Indian-born novelist and essayist Salman Rushdie. Rushdie said he was “thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour.”

The announcement drew the ire of extremists who have dogged Rushdie since the publication of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. The Iranian foreign ministry has decried the knighting of this “hated apostate,” while protests have broken out in Malaysia, Kashmir, Pakistan, and London.

COMMENTARY is featuring, in our Today from the Archive section, pieces from Daniel Pipes, Midge Decter, and Hillel Halkin on the subject of Sir Salman, his novels, and the meaning of his literary achievement.

On the list of Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Honours was a knighthood for the Indian-born novelist and essayist Salman Rushdie. Rushdie said he was “thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour.”

The announcement drew the ire of extremists who have dogged Rushdie since the publication of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. The Iranian foreign ministry has decried the knighting of this “hated apostate,” while protests have broken out in Malaysia, Kashmir, Pakistan, and London.

COMMENTARY is featuring, in our Today from the Archive section, pieces from Daniel Pipes, Midge Decter, and Hillel Halkin on the subject of Sir Salman, his novels, and the meaning of his literary achievement.

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Pipes v. Gershman

My idea of uncomfortable is having one of my heroes attack another. That is how I felt when I read Daniel Pipes’s charge that Carl Gershman was among “government figures [who] wrong-headedly insist on consorting with the enemy.” Pipes is a prolific Middle East expert and indefatigable opponent of jihadism (as well as a longtime contributor to COMMENTARY) from whose writings I have profited greatly. Gershman is the president of the National Endowment for Democracy (and another valued contributor).

Pipes’s case against Gershman is that the NED supports the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) and that Gershman himself spoke at its 2004 annual conference.

For all my admiration of Pipes, I think his attack on Gershman is off-base. For starters, Gershman is not a “government figure.” The NED is funded by Congress, but it is privately incorporated, and Gershman is chosen by its board of mostly private citizens, not by any branch of the government. This is not a nit, because the NED’s effectiveness depends on this modest margin of separation from the government.

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My idea of uncomfortable is having one of my heroes attack another. That is how I felt when I read Daniel Pipes’s charge that Carl Gershman was among “government figures [who] wrong-headedly insist on consorting with the enemy.” Pipes is a prolific Middle East expert and indefatigable opponent of jihadism (as well as a longtime contributor to COMMENTARY) from whose writings I have profited greatly. Gershman is the president of the National Endowment for Democracy (and another valued contributor).

Pipes’s case against Gershman is that the NED supports the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) and that Gershman himself spoke at its 2004 annual conference.

For all my admiration of Pipes, I think his attack on Gershman is off-base. For starters, Gershman is not a “government figure.” The NED is funded by Congress, but it is privately incorporated, and Gershman is chosen by its board of mostly private citizens, not by any branch of the government. This is not a nit, because the NED’s effectiveness depends on this modest margin of separation from the government.

More importantly, I don’t buy Pipes’s take on the CSID or his criticism of Gershman for involvement with it. I myself am a member of CSID and spoke at its 2006 conference. In addition to speaking, I attended the entire weekend. I found it an interesting mix. It included Islamists or Islamist-sympathizers who called themselves democrats. It also included liberals whose democratic credentials were not in question.

Its keynote speaker was Laith Kubha of Gershman’s NED (the same man who was for a time spokesman for the Iraqi government). His speech was remarkable. Its main theme? How Iraqis, instead of focusing on what America did wrong in Iraq, should confront what they themselves did wrong. It was certainly not what one would expect to hear at a jihadist gathering, and it went over well. I share Pipes’s suspicion of Islamists who profess democracy. But I don’t expect genuine Muslim democrats to blackball Islamists who call themselves democrats. I expect them to argue with them. Which is exactly what was going on at the CSID conference. (Not to mention that the CSID puts the likes of me on its programs.)

Pipes has argued cogently that the solution to extremist Islam is moderate Islam. (I don’t like the term “moderate Islam,” but that is for another occasion.) The CSID looked to me precisely like an arena in which “moderates” were confronting Islamists. What sense does it make to anathematize that as “consorting with the enemy?”

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Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity

On May 24th, COMMENTARY’s editor-at-large Norman Podhoretz received the Guardian of Zion Award from the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University. The Guardian of Zion Award is one of the most prestigious in its field; past recipients include Charles Krauthammer, Cynthia Ozick, Daniel Pipes, Elie Wiesel, and Ruth Wisse. The full text of Podhoretz’s lecture—Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity—is now available at COMMENTARY’s website. (And make sure to read Rick Richman’s take on the lecture at Jewish Current Issues.)

On May 24th, COMMENTARY’s editor-at-large Norman Podhoretz received the Guardian of Zion Award from the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University. The Guardian of Zion Award is one of the most prestigious in its field; past recipients include Charles Krauthammer, Cynthia Ozick, Daniel Pipes, Elie Wiesel, and Ruth Wisse. The full text of Podhoretz’s lecture—Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity—is now available at COMMENTARY’s website. (And make sure to read Rick Richman’s take on the lecture at Jewish Current Issues.)

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Weekend Reading

The recent dust-up between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has reminded some observers of what Clinton-style politics can look like in action. If, as former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Sherman once observed, the past is the best prophet of the future, it’s distinctly probable that American political discourse will remain quite lively for some time now, and possibly even after George W. Bush’s second term ends. For your weekend reading, contentions would like to offer a selection of incisive articles from COMMENTARY taking a hard look at the Clinton administration and the years of ease at home and swiftly growing unease abroad over which Bill Clinton presided. Enjoy.

Bush, Clinton, and the Jews—A Debate
Daniel Pipes & Martin Peretz, October 1992

Lament of a Clinton Supporter
Joshua Muravchik, August 1993

Clintonism Abroad
Joshua Muravchik, February 1995

A Party of One: Clinton and the Democrats
Daniel Casse, July 1996

What Saddam Hussein Learned from Bill Clinton
Harvey Sicherman, December 1996

Clinton, the Country, and the Culture
January 1999

The recent dust-up between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has reminded some observers of what Clinton-style politics can look like in action. If, as former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Sherman once observed, the past is the best prophet of the future, it’s distinctly probable that American political discourse will remain quite lively for some time now, and possibly even after George W. Bush’s second term ends. For your weekend reading, contentions would like to offer a selection of incisive articles from COMMENTARY taking a hard look at the Clinton administration and the years of ease at home and swiftly growing unease abroad over which Bill Clinton presided. Enjoy.

Bush, Clinton, and the Jews—A Debate
Daniel Pipes & Martin Peretz, October 1992

Lament of a Clinton Supporter
Joshua Muravchik, August 1993

Clintonism Abroad
Joshua Muravchik, February 1995

A Party of One: Clinton and the Democrats
Daniel Casse, July 1996

What Saddam Hussein Learned from Bill Clinton
Harvey Sicherman, December 1996

Clinton, the Country, and the Culture
January 1999

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Ramadan’s Exclusion

Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss Muslim celebrity academic and British government adviser who teaches at Oxford, is complaining again of his exclusion from the United States, where he was unable to take up a chair at Notre Dame. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, he claims that he has been denied a visa “because of my criticism of [the Bush administration’s] Middle East policy and America’s unconditional support for Israel.” He lists an impressive-sounding array of U.S. organizations that “have understood that the real issue is my freedom of speech” and support his legal challenge.

In fact, Ramadan was denied a visa because of his donations to a Palestinian “charity” that supports Hamas. His claim that he was then unaware of this link is implausible, given his record as a hardline Islamist who has repeatedly refused to condemn Palestinian terrorism. In fact, Ramadan has a record of contacts with Islamist terrorists. The Algerian terrorist Djamal Beghal, who plotted to blow up the U.S. embassy in Paris, claimed that he “took charge of preparing the lectures of Tariq Ramadan” while studying with him in Geneva. Ramadan was excluded from France for his contacts with Algerian terrorists, though this ban was later lifted.

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Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss Muslim celebrity academic and British government adviser who teaches at Oxford, is complaining again of his exclusion from the United States, where he was unable to take up a chair at Notre Dame. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, he claims that he has been denied a visa “because of my criticism of [the Bush administration’s] Middle East policy and America’s unconditional support for Israel.” He lists an impressive-sounding array of U.S. organizations that “have understood that the real issue is my freedom of speech” and support his legal challenge.

In fact, Ramadan was denied a visa because of his donations to a Palestinian “charity” that supports Hamas. His claim that he was then unaware of this link is implausible, given his record as a hardline Islamist who has repeatedly refused to condemn Palestinian terrorism. In fact, Ramadan has a record of contacts with Islamist terrorists. The Algerian terrorist Djamal Beghal, who plotted to blow up the U.S. embassy in Paris, claimed that he “took charge of preparing the lectures of Tariq Ramadan” while studying with him in Geneva. Ramadan was excluded from France for his contacts with Algerian terrorists, though this ban was later lifted.


Even leaving aside this and other contacts with leading terrorists such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s deputy, and the “blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, who masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center—all of which Ramadan denies—his claim to be a leading moderate who seeks to “westernize Islam” and believes in freedom of speech does not square with his public pronouncements. (For fuller documentation of these charges against Ramadan, please see this from the indispensible Daniel Pipes.) It is rank hypocrisy for Ramadan, who rarely condemns censorship in the Muslim world, to accuse the United States of “muffling critical opinion” and “requiring all its citizens to think the same way.”

Ramadan justified the protests against Danish cartoons of Mohammed, claiming that the Koran prohibits representations of Islamic prophets. (In fact, it does not.) He supported the Islamist campaign to ban Voltaire’s play about Mohammed, Fanaticism, at the French town of Saint-Genis-Pouilly. He refers to Islamist atrocities such as 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid and Bali as “interventions” and denies that bin Laden was behind 9/11. He has praised the genocidal Sudanese Islamist regime. He attacked the French intellectuals Alain Finkielkraut and Bernard-Henri Levy for “betraying the French Republic” by their support for “sectarianism”, a euphemism for Zionism, and scandalized many by identifying them as Jews. According to Mike Whine, head of the British Community Security Trust, an organization which monitors anti-Semitism, Ramadan has made many anti-Jewish statements and “is at the soft end of the extreme Islamist spectrum.”

We do not know precisely why the U.S. Department for Homeland Security has repeatedly turned down his application for a visa, despite elements in the State Department who would like to revoke the ban. The evidence against him may well include classified information. What we do know is that Ramadan has never abandoned his project of Islamification, and that he wants to pursue it in the heart of the United States. As the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ramadan sees his own destiny in exalted terms. In his Chronicle piece, he speaks of the “period of transition” on which the West has embarked since the emergence of large Muslim minorities, who will require the host societies to make “major adjustments” to accommodate them. “We must move forward from integration,” he declares, while Muslims “must no longer see themselves as a ‘minority.’”

What does all this mean? What is Western society supposed to be in transition to—an Islamic one? What are these “major adjustments” that the Western democracies must make? What is wrong with the model of integration, which has served the United States well in the past, and why is it no longer good enough for Muslims? And why must Muslims no longer see themselves as a minority, if that is what they are?

Ramadan’s manifesto, moderate as it may sound, in reality amounts to a program of Islamification by stealth. His family was exiled from Egypt, and Ramadan remains persona non grata there, because the Muslim Brotherhood was and is seen as dangerous. It was the first and is still the largest Islamist organization in the world. Ramadan has achieved respectability in Europe, where he is feted by academics at Oxford and Geneva—he was even invited by the British government to sit on an advisory committee after the 7/7 subway bombings in London.

But the United States has looked more carefully at his record and decided that he represents a threat. To allow Ramadan’s brand of Islamism a platform in the heart of the American academy would be the equivalent of allowing, say, Martin Heidegger or Carl Schmitt to lecture in the United States during the Third Reich. It was the judge who had prosecuted many Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, Robert H. Jackson, who warned that the Constitution is not a “suicide pact.” It is not incumbent on a democracy to allow its enemies the freedom to subvert its very existence. Tariq Ramadan is just such an enemy.

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The Muslim Lobby

Europe’s democracies have changed dramatically in recent years in response to Islamic population growth, growth fueled by immigration and birth rates substantially higher than local norms. Great Britain, France, Italy, and other nations have been forced to accommodate the needs and preferences of their Islamic citizens, often at the expense of the global conflict with radical Islam.

Can it happen here? Suppose that the writer Mark Steyn is right to argue that “demographics are destiny.” What number of Muslims, agitating for their self-defined interests and agendas, would constitute a critical mass in the U.S.? At what point would American politicians feel compelled to take up their cause?

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) all worked overtime this past election cycle to create the impression that, in American politics, Muslims are now a force to be reckoned with. They were especially emphatic about the country’s growing Muslim population—some 8 million souls, in their oft-repeated estimates.

So it comes as a useful corrective to read Patrick Poole’s “Numbers Don’t Lie” in this week’s Front Page Magazine. Poole cites two recent pieces (in IBD and the New York Sun) criticizing the methodology of the survey that produced the 8 million figure and citing new estimates drawn from survey work done at CUNY and the University of Chicago—estimates suggesting that there are, in fact, not 8 million Muslims in the U.S. but well under 3 million. Moreover, of these, only a minuscule 4,761 are dues-paying members of CAIR, which presents itself as the community’s authoritative voice.

Whether CAIR or any of the others truly represents the sentiments of American Muslims is a question that political strategists might consider before pandering to their radical demands or overlooking their questionable (or worse) political associations, all amply documented over the years by observers like Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson. But why be fooled by numbers? The readiness to inflate the size of their alleged constituency is only another tactic in a campaign of intimidation to which too many have already succumbed.

Europe’s democracies have changed dramatically in recent years in response to Islamic population growth, growth fueled by immigration and birth rates substantially higher than local norms. Great Britain, France, Italy, and other nations have been forced to accommodate the needs and preferences of their Islamic citizens, often at the expense of the global conflict with radical Islam.

Can it happen here? Suppose that the writer Mark Steyn is right to argue that “demographics are destiny.” What number of Muslims, agitating for their self-defined interests and agendas, would constitute a critical mass in the U.S.? At what point would American politicians feel compelled to take up their cause?

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) all worked overtime this past election cycle to create the impression that, in American politics, Muslims are now a force to be reckoned with. They were especially emphatic about the country’s growing Muslim population—some 8 million souls, in their oft-repeated estimates.

So it comes as a useful corrective to read Patrick Poole’s “Numbers Don’t Lie” in this week’s Front Page Magazine. Poole cites two recent pieces (in IBD and the New York Sun) criticizing the methodology of the survey that produced the 8 million figure and citing new estimates drawn from survey work done at CUNY and the University of Chicago—estimates suggesting that there are, in fact, not 8 million Muslims in the U.S. but well under 3 million. Moreover, of these, only a minuscule 4,761 are dues-paying members of CAIR, which presents itself as the community’s authoritative voice.

Whether CAIR or any of the others truly represents the sentiments of American Muslims is a question that political strategists might consider before pandering to their radical demands or overlooking their questionable (or worse) political associations, all amply documented over the years by observers like Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson. But why be fooled by numbers? The readiness to inflate the size of their alleged constituency is only another tactic in a campaign of intimidation to which too many have already succumbed.

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Clash of Civilizations

Daniel Freedman of It Shines for All has posted a must-watch video of Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes and Douglas Murray, author of Neoconservativism: Why We Need It, taking on London’s pro-Islamist mayor “Red” Ken Livingstone and Birmingham city councillor and anti-war activist Salma Yaqoob in a debate on the clash of Western and Islamic civilization. contentions blogger Daniel Johnson attended the event and covered it for the New York Sun.

Daniel Freedman of It Shines for All has posted a must-watch video of Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes and Douglas Murray, author of Neoconservativism: Why We Need It, taking on London’s pro-Islamist mayor “Red” Ken Livingstone and Birmingham city councillor and anti-war activist Salma Yaqoob in a debate on the clash of Western and Islamic civilization. contentions blogger Daniel Johnson attended the event and covered it for the New York Sun.

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