Friday, 31 August 2012
Erdogan Calls Alevi Houses Of Worship "Freaks"

From Hurriyet:Daily News

August 7, 2012:

Alevis angered by PM’s ‘freak’ remark for Cemevi

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

Alevis react to PM Erdo?an’s calling an ‘unlicensed’ Alevi worship house a ‘freak.’ ‘All cemevis are unlicensed because of discriminatory policies,’ one figure says

The Alevi worship ceremony is called a 'cem,' and is traditionally held in a cemevi, while Sunnis worship in a mosque.

The Alevi worship ceremony is called a 'cem,' and is traditionally held in a cemevi, while Sunnis worship in a mosque.

Erdem Güne? Erdem Güne? 

Alevi organizations in Turkey have reacted harshly to a remark from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an in which he called an Istanbul “unlicensed” Alevi house of worship a “freak.”

“The Karacaahmet cemevi was built there as a freak, and still remains an illegal building – it has no license,” Erdo?an said during an interview broadcast on the private A Haber channel on Aug. 6, in response to a question about the status of Alevi cemevis in Turkey. 

“I am not discriminating against [our] Alevi brothers and sisters. If Alevism means loving the Prophet Ali, I am more Alevi than anyone who says he is Alevi,” Erdo?an said. “There must be only one house of worship for all Muslims.” [in other words, the Alevi cemevi will not do and if the Alevis wish to be considered Muslims, they must worship in mosques.]

The Karacaahmet Sultan Solidarity Association, which manages the cemevi Erdo?an mentioned, issued a press release yesterday condemning his remark.

“We find it hard to understand why [the prime minister] has brought this issue up 18 years later. The prime minister, who must maintain an equal distance from every belief, has offended millions of Alevis by calling a cemevi a ‘freak,’” the statement read.

Muharrem Ercan, the head of the association, also asked if there was any way to issue licenses for cemevis, which are not considered houses of worship.

“All of the cemevis, nearly 900, in Turkey, are unlicensed because of discriminatory policies.
[meaning: they are not mosques, not Muslmi enough for the Sunnis]The reason cemevis are unlicensed cannot be found by blaming Alevis; the state is responsible,” the statement read. The association had applied for legal status with architectural plans before, it added.

Erdo?an was risking Turkey’s peace by targeting Alevis with such words, said Selahattin Özel, chairman of the Alevi Bekta?i Federation.

“I found it normal that Prime Minister Erdo?an would call a Cemevi a freak; he also tried to tear it down once. Yes, it is true, a part of that cemevi is unlicensed, but do you know how many unlicensed mosques there are in Turkey? But we would never call a mosque a ‘freak,’ because we respect believers,” Özel told Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

Every religion has a house of worship, and the mosque is Islam’s, ?dris Bal, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said yesterday, adding that the tension between Alevis and Sunnis was being created intentionally to “drain Turkey’s battery.” 

Loving Ali and humiliating Alevis in violation of their human rights at the same time does not make sense, Özel said. “[Erdo?an] is using Alevis as a political tool to gain ground against [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad.”

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled on July 25 that only mosques and masjids can be considered places of worship, overruling a request to register a cemevi in Ankara as a house of worship.
Posted on 08/31/2012 9:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
A Musical Interlude: Blue Moon (Al Bowlly)
Listen here.
Posted on 08/31/2012 9:32 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
If Stalin Could Have Photographs Retouched, Why Can't Iran Change A Word Or Two?

From Gulf News:

Propaganda shock for Bahrain

TEHRAN: The Iranian media has been rapped for tampering with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's speech at a summit of non-aligned leaders, hosted by Tehran.

The official Radio and Television Corporation inserted Bahrain's name instead of Syria in the instant Persian translation of President Mursi's speech when he talked about the 'Arab Spring' in that country.

They declined to translate President Mursi's severe attack on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad calling on non-aligned leaders to stand against his "oppressive regime" to end the bloodshed.

Iranian media activist Ameed Maqdam described the act as an "intentional, blunt and naive falsification" following "orders from higher authorities".

Posted on 08/31/2012 9:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
Reluctantly, And Belatedly, The Administration Decides To Correctly Identify The Haqqani Network

From The New York Times:


With a Congressional reporting deadline looming, the Obama administration appears ready to designate the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization, risking a new breach in relations with Pakistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and top military officials are said to favor placing sanctions on the network, an insurgent group operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is responsible for some of the most spectacular assaults on American bases and Afghan cities in recent years, according to half a dozen current and former administration officials. But a spirited internal debate has American officials, including those at the White House, weighing the consequences that such a decision would have not only on United States-Pakistan relations but also on peace talks with the Taliban and on the fate of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American soldier known to be held by the insurgents.

And perhaps most important, administration and Congressional officials say, is whether the designation would make any difference in hampering the group’s ability to raise money from wealthy private donors in Persian Gulf countries and other patrons. Several of its leaders have already been designated individually as “global terrorists,” so the issue now is what would be gained by designating the entire organization.

Even though Mrs. Clinton is leaning toward designating the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization, no final decision has been made, the officials said. “The optics of designating look great and the chest thumping is an understandable expression of sentiment, but everyone has to calm down and say, ‘What does it actually do?’ ” said one administration official involved in the debate who favors designating the group.

Under pressure from Congress, the Obama administration must decide by Sept. 9 whether to declare the Haqqani network a terrorist entity. On one level, the decision seems clear-cut. Since 2008, Haqqani suicide attackers in Afghanistan have struck the Indian Embassy, five-star hotels and restaurants and, last September, the headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the American Embassy.

A senior American official said last week that it was now “likely” that one of the members of the Haqqani family leadership, Badruddin Haqqani, the operational commander of the network, was killed in a recent drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas. In May 2011, the State Department said that Mr. Haqqani “helps lead insurgents and foreign fighters in attacks against targets in southeastern Afghanistan.”

Critics cite several reasons that designating the Haqqani network a terrorist organization could further complicate relations between the United States and Pakistan, just as relations are getting back on track after months of grueling negotiations that finally reopened NATO supply routes through Pakistan.

One reason, officials said, is that such a move would seem to bring Pakistan a step closer to being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

American officials say that the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate is covertly aiding the insurgents. Pakistani officials have rebutted the accusation — admitting that the agency maintains regular contact with the Haqqanis, but denying that it provides operational support — and contend that the Obama administration is trying to deflect attention from its own failings in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials, however, said this week that Islamabad would not protest a designation, calling the decision “an internal American issue.” But administration officials reason that it is worse for Pakistan to protest the designation publicly because it would be almost a direct admission that it supports the group.

Posted on 08/31/2012 7:30 PM by HughFitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
In Malaysia, Muslims Accuse Each Other Of Being, Or Being Linked To Those Who Are, "Pro-Israeli"
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 16:37

WHY did you hire pro-Zionist media consultant Trevino, Najib told to EXPLAIN

Written by  Saifuddin Nasution Ismail

I support UK newspaper Guardian's decision to "force out"Joshua Trevino's over his alleged role and participation in FBC Media. The company, Trevino included, is seen as the media consultant for Dato' Seri Najib Razak's administration's PR manager.

Trevino, in particular, is a prominent pro-Zionist operative. It is therefore strange that the present government would hire this consultant but at the same time tries to accuse me of being a "pro-Israeli" politician.

It should have long ago openly denounced him.

Najib needs to explain to the people

Trevino's removal comes now but FBC Media has already been heavily criticised previously for its less than objective coverage of the Najib administration. BBC and CNBC have already disassociated themselves from FBC Media.

The situation requires the prime minister to explain his government's relationship with FBC Media and Trevino. If he believes they are wrongly demonised then he should explain to the Malaysian people.

The rakyat have the right to know why its government works with a firm and its consultants who have been pilloried universally by international media.


Posted on 08/31/2012 7:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
Climate Indices: What's To Come Is Not Unsure


Climate indices to watch

— rasmus @ 31 August 2012

What is the most important climate condition to keep tabs on? We have recently mentioned the record-low Arctic sea-ice extent, but hurricanes this year seem to be getting the most attention because of timing ofHurricane Isaac (I know of no evidence suggesting that the Arctic sea-ice has such a direct impact on U.S. politics!).

In addition, the status of ENSO issued by NOAA on August 27, 2012, states that El Niño conditions are likely to develop during August or September 2012, although the present state is classified as ‘ENSO-neutral‘. El Niño has a strong influence on local economies and societies in fairly extensive regions of the world. ENSO is a natural phenomenon, but may change under a changing climate and is interesting to watch over the long term.

It’s important to avoid getting lost into single indicators, however, as the climate system is complex, with many different parts interacting with one another. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) recently put out a statement on climate change, referring to a wide range of different climate indicators (here is a link for the most common ones). The AMS is not alone – the National Academy for Sciences (NAS) is also concerned about our climate and its many aspects: A fairly recent movie called Climate change at the NAS provides a comprehensive overview.

Both AMS and NAS accounts provide a rich picture of many different aspects with many different (important) details, which make them fairly long and complicated. This is why simple indices sometimes are used – to convey a simple message. We need both, and that’s why the NAS video and the AMS statement are so valuable – at least for the readers who understand what they are talking about. I’m not sure that everybody does, though.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. I would recommend the EPA climate indicators as another resource:

    Comment by MMM — 31 Aug 2012 @ 7:35 AM

  2. When I see the Mauna Loa graph I can’t help becoming puzzled by claims of “panic” or “overreaction” about global warming. Really, I can’t see any reaction whatsoever.

    Comment by Alexandre — 31 Aug 2012 @ 8:01 AM

  3. Linking the 800k historical animation would also be good. It is excellent and really shows the whole true picture of CO2 in the interglacials, Glacials and now.

    Comment by NeilT — 31 Aug 2012 @ 9:02 AM

  4. We also have many important indicators in the planet’s biological systems. Fisheries, forests, and grasslands, for example, are all telling us how the new climate is advancing. For a broad overview of aquatic, marine, and terrestrial change found among systems (and species) I think it’s hard to do better than to start with the 800+ papers reviewed in Parmesan, Camille. “Ecological and Evolutionary Responses to Recent Climate Change.” Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. 2006. 37: 637-69

    Comment by Lance Olsen — 31 Aug 2012 @ 9:19 AM

  5. Evidently my brief comment that the graphic was chartjunk didn’t make the moderation cut – I will try to clarify.

    The point is not that there’s anything wrong with this post, but that it’s tough to be good communicators of science without adhering to some standards of presentation. We need to raise the level of debate, because we can’t win with pretty pictures. A chart with a nonzero y-axis baseline and no units of measure is only convincing for the time it takes to get from here to WattsUpWithThat.

    Comment by Tom Fiddaman — 31 Aug 2012 @ 10:37 AM

  6. Call me ‘alarmist’ but I don’t think the 800k really captures the true significance of CO2 curve. Using ocean sediments, it has been show that 300ppm had hardly been exceeded over the last 2.1 million years. So 400ppm (recorded up in the Arctic this year & now no more than two summer away at MLO) is something not seen in what, 15 million years? And all achieved within a century.
    15M:100. That’s some ratio!!

    Comment by MARodger — 31 Aug 2012 @ 10:49 AM

  7. Great question to pose. There are classic indicators – CO2, aerosols and temperatures of air, ocean and cryo – all important.

    I hope we keep an eye on methane levels, and ocean ph.

    Then there are consequences of continued carbon combustion like tropospheric O3 levels, — it is a ghg and weakens most all life forms. O3 levels now regularly spike in high combustion areas.

    Comment by richard pauli — 31 Aug 2012 @ 10:51 AM

  8. It would be nice to have some numbers on the y-axis of the title figure.

    Comment by David Donovan — 31 Aug 2012 @ 10:56 AM

  9. Given that the whole denier-sphere is funded by the fundamental flaw of Western Capitalism that allows, nay, encourages the few to profit from the pollution and exploitation of the commons for personal gains, I would think that the most important metric to watch is when the ~77% currently in favor climate disruption mitigation is to become a majority action in a presumably democratic Nation.

    We all pay fees to dump garbage, waste water and more. Corpro/People dump tons for free and accumulate mega-bucks. Even get tax subsidies. The GOP don’t fund abortion. Fine. A precedent! Why must my tax dollars fund the ecocide of the PLANET via fossil subsidies?!!! We’re talking “MORALS” here. Try throwing 19 pounds of paper cups out the car window for each gallon of gas you burn. Who is making money here and who is losing? Toxins verses paper cups? (I bet you could be real creative about increasing your trash stream if it were paper cups.) Even absorb a “slap on the wrist” fine once in awhile. Surely a good lawyer on retainer. Once established perhaps even a congressman or two.

    I pay $150/ton to dump my household garbage. $50/T to recycle yard waste. Waste water fees, of course. I even have a rain water run of fee of $5/m. (guide lines here?) Yet Corpro/people piss all over themselves at the thought of $25/ton for TOXINS! Sweet Jesus… They are making billions, I get ~$30/day to stay alive and must fund health insurance. Go Figure!

    In brief:

    Stop profits from the pollution of the commons.
    Go Green, Resistance is FATAL to Earth’s life support systems.

    Comment by Leif — 31 Aug 2012 @ 11:31 AM

  10. re: 3

    I don’t know why that’s labeled 800,000 years ago. It’s from 1979.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 31 Aug 2012 @ 11:54 AM

  11. Tom Fiddaman: I believe the term is “infographic”.

    It’s sad that people always truck out the same complaints about zero points and units, because it shows a lack of understanding about context. Sometimes the zero point can be left off in order to deceive, and units can be misused. Here, however, we have a situation where the signal to noise ratio is very, very high, and the increase is significant without recourse to nitpicks over units or zero points. In short, it is an image which can be understood without any great scientific knowledge, while also not distorting the science in any way.

    Yes, the chart could contain more science. It could indicate that CO2 levels have nearly doubled. It could include the fascinating fact that CO2 is measured in parts per million (by volume). And so on, and so on…. but these distract from the key message of the chart.

    Comment by Didactylos — 31 Aug 2012 @ 12:03 PM

  12. Abyssal warming? Little remarked, sparse data, small in absolute numbers but statistically significant and widespread.

    Comment by dbostrom — 31 Aug 2012 @ 12:05 PM

  13. Thank you. The linked resources are very helpful–lots of good stuff. But I always worry when I hear “geo-engineering” mentioned, even with caution. The best geo-engineering I know is called photovoltaics and wind energy systems.
    Here’s some right here:

    Near-zero emissions. Negligible waste heat. All the weirdness you want–right here in the prevention phase–no need to run to weird remedial schemes.

    I can’t wait for someone calculate and model–emissions aside–the total btu’s of waste heat contributed globally by all power plants and combustion engines. Or the btu’s of waste heat per person from same.

    Comment by Patrick — 31 Aug 2012 @ 12:28 PM

  14. @didactylos – The signal to noise ratio on CO2 measurements is extremely high. The signal to noise ratio in the climate debate is extremely low. Cherry-picked timelines and arbitrary baselines are rampant among the septic crowd. “Infographics” legitimate those practices. Why do it, without a compelling purpose?

    Comment by Tom Fiddaman — 31 Aug 2012 @ 1:02 PM

  15. @6 MARodger

    Actually I’ve found it more constructive if you scare people just enough. Scaring them to death is counterproductive as most of them just go into total denial mode and don’t come out for a few years until they have got used to the idea.

    I work extensively with change management in my day job as I, basically, ruin you day when I run my migration projects. We work a lot with the Kübler-Ross model.

    I found that the 800k animation was a great tool in getting people who were still in denial to get out of it and recognise that we are driving this change. We don’t need to use millions or total disaster or anything else.

    We’re not actually asking for total and complete transformation of people’s lives. Just to cut it down a bit and keep on going like that until we can try to balance the situation.

    Small actions require compelling evidence but not complete disaster movies.

    Comment by NeilT — 31 Aug 2012 @ 1:03 PM

  16. @5: I don’t think it’s chartjunk at all. It’s a stlye-graphic which servesas a headline. This post is high-q info, with lots more linked in–which is hardly the case at the the postjunk site you mention.

    I like climate science communication, not disinformation.

    Comment by Patrick — 31 Aug 2012 @ 1:24 PM

  17. This may be a naive, even lazy, question. I seem to have missed the answer. Is some sort of a composite index feasible?

    Comment by Radge Havers — 31 Aug 2012 @ 1:26 PM

  18. The bottom line is always: FOOD; has the weather damaged the crops? Will the weather damage the crops next year? How many corn crops will have to fail before we admit that it is getting too hot for corn?

    As a society,we need to ask ourselves, When do we admit that for practical purposes, “Global warming is here”?

    However, I think we have to go back and look at food production after CO2 rose above 350 ppmv to see changes in the system.


    Comment by Aaron Lewis — 31 Aug 2012 @ 1:35 PM

  19. This presentation has several excellent illustrations:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Aug 2012 @ 1:37 PM

  20. Tom Fiddaman, before you throw around terms like “chartjunk”, you need to have an understanding of the data. In this instance, a very famous, well known dataset is reproduced. The source of the data is given, and all the data is included. It is not cropped or tampered with in any way. The form the data is presented in is entirely appropriate, showing the long term trend and the seasonal signal. Moreover, it is how this dataset is usually portrayed.

    The vertical axis is not easy for everyone to understand, and its omission only offends those who already know what it is and what it means (and are capable of finding the original data)…. so who exactly is outraged here?

    Infographics are important, and we should be looking for ways to make them clearer and more correct, not throwing up our hands in horror and completely abdicating any responsibility to communicate to people who do not speak the language of climate science.

    One of the cardinal sins of scientists is including too much information in a single chart or diagram. For the lay public, clarity and simplicity are vital.

    Comment by Didactylos — 31 Aug 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  21. Jeffrey Davis @10
    The link @3 starts off from 1979 which is presumably where there are enough CO2 records to provide the wobbly line showing CO2 at different latitudes. When it reaches 2011 (despite being titled 2009)it then starts backwards from 1979 and its title then becomes clear.

    Comment by MARodger — 31 Aug 2012 @ 2:06 PM

  22. “nonzero y-axis baseline”

    Yes. Which is why when the newspaper shows temperatures from the last 5 days, I complain because they didn’t start at zero kelvin. Or why when I get a topographic summary of my hiking route I complain because they don’t show the graph starting at sea level.

    As with all charts and graphics, the appropriate choice depends on the information being conveyed. A zero baseline may be appropriate in many circumstances, but not in all (and can depend on the choice of unit: a zero Celsius baseline is different from a zero Fahrenheit baseline is different from a zero Kelvin baseline).

    Comment by MMM — 31 Aug 2012 @ 2:59 PM


    And if you labeled your axes i could tell you by exactly how much

    Comment by tamino — 31 Aug 2012 @ 3:01 PM

  24. MARodger @ 6

    The earth was at around 400ppm about 3 million years ago during the Pliocene warm period. That time period has been extensively studied beginning with the work of Soviet climatologist Mikhail Budyko and then taken up by the USGS in the 1980’s. It continues today as the USGS PRISM project (Pliocene Research Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping.) The work is used to understand what the world is in for in geologically short order and it is used to help verify climate models.

    Comment by M Tucker — 31 Aug 2012 @ 3:34 PM

  25. 13 Patrick said, “I can’t wait for someone calculate and model–emissions aside–the total btu’s of waste heat contributed globally by all power plants and combustion engines. ”

    Been done. I don’t have a link, but the result is that waste heat is totally negligible.

    Comment by Jim Larsen — 31 Aug 2012 @ 4:01 PM

  26. Top indicies to watch -
    GHG pollution levels. They drive the disruption.
    Extreme Events. The consequences are in there. The costs are gigantic.
    Global temperatures.
    Sea levels.
    Extinctions and migrations.
    Food supplies.

    Things not to watch –
    Anything from Watt, McIntyre, Goddard, Moncton, Lomborg, et. al.;
    Youtube’s that disprove AGW;
    Antarctic sea-ice;
    Sunspots (literally, and for incite on AGW).

    Comment by owl905 — 31 Aug 2012 @ 4:13 PM

  27. Radge Havers @17 — A composite index is possible of course. Its usefulness remains most uncertain.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 31 Aug 2012 @ 4:38 PM

Posted on 08/31/2012 5:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
Petra Marquardt-Bigman: On What Molds British Opinion On Israel

From The Jerusalem Post:

Wrong about Israel and much else

Earlier this month, the Jerusalem Post had a short report about some remarks of the British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, on Israeli TV. The report’s headline highlighted the ambassador’s assertion that Israel was widely seen as Goliath, while the Palestinians were perceived as David. According to Ambassador Gould, the “problem is not hasbara,” but since both the British public and politicians “read news about ongoing settlement building, conditions in the West Bank and restrictions placed on the Gaza Strip,” Gould claimed it was “[the] substance of what is going on [that] is really […] driving this.”  Gould also suggested that there was an “erosion of popular support for the Jewish state.”

It is noteworthy that the ambassador’s remarks were actually a response to a reference to the rather peculiar BBC coverage of Israel in the run-up to the London Olympics. But while the ambassador might feel a professional obligation to claim that the British media convey the “substance of what is going on,” Israeli writer Hadar Sela rightly noted in a critical commentary that British audiences are exposed to “a constant largely monotone diet of one-sided and chronically misleading coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict […] which nourishes the ‘Israel as Goliath, Palestinians as David’ myth.”
Just imagine for a moment that the media in Britain (and elsewhere) would mention in every report about Israeli settlement building that after more than four decades of supposedly relentless building and expansion, these settlements gobble up all of about 1.1 percent of the pre-1967 West Bank territory…
Israeli hasbara usually tries to point to such simple facts in order to provide the often neglected context that would allow audiences to understand that the simplistic – and simplistically inverted – Goliath-David-narrative doesn’t really capture the “substance of what is going on” in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Yet, Ambassador Gould is in a way right to say that the “problem is not hasbara.” There is a bigger problem which is easy to overlook when we focus primarily on Israel, and I think there is a solid case for the argument that the media bias that shapes a largely negative image of Israel is only one manifestation of the dominant left-wing perspective that colors the media coverage of many issues.
Consider these observations by Walter Russell Mead on the media coverage of Mitt Romney’s recent trip abroad:
“Much of the global press is, if anything, to the left of the U.S. mainstream media, and the conventional wisdom among global elites is closer to the views of George Soros than it is to those of, say, John Bolton.
This is a fact, and it is something that any Republican president and his foreign policy team must develop a strategy for managing. President Obama is killing people right and left through drone strikes, has kept Guantanamo open for business in violation of his campaign pledges, is on a course for war with Iran, and is continuing Bush policies on a variety of key issues in the Middle East and elsewhere—but he isn’t encountering anything like the hurricane of hatred and resistance that George Bush had to face every day. […]
Much of the criticism Governor Romney encountered this week was unfair […] If he wins in November, he will face four long years of unrelenting, bitter criticism at home and abroad. He will be the target of orchestrated disinformation and propaganda campaigns. Enemies and opponents (not always the same thing) will seek to turn global and domestic public opinion against him, exploiting every blunder and manufacturing blunders where no real ones exist. He will be judged by entirely different standards than President Obama—he will certainly not get a Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up.”
A few days later, Mead delivered yet another scathing verdict on the mainstream media. Comparing the coverage of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, Mead noted:
“no one can deny the political power of the Tea Party anymore; for a movement that is now over three years old, this is no small thing.
Contrast this to the fate of what was supposed to be the left’s answer to Tea Party populism: OWS. It’s odd, but we don’t seem to hear much from them any more. This is especially surprising when you think about how the MSM treated that movement to begin with. It did everything in its power to ignore, disparage or kill the Tea Party, and everything it could think of to celebrate and hype OWS.
One movement remains a powerful force in American politics; the other is as dead as the dodo. […]
But perhaps the contrast of Tea Party staying power and the genuinely total and ignominious collapse of OWS can serve as a teachable moment for mainstream media editors and reporters who actually want to understand and fairly report the news, as opposed to manipulating it in the interest of a political agenda. […]
The lunge to dismiss the Tea Party as a racist and comical fringe while celebrating OWS as a genuine upwelling of American populism reflected serious errors about American history and culture. The simplistic conflation of populism with a left-progressive agenda is the kind of mistake college undergrads (and excitable professors) make when they’ve read too much Howard Zinn while imbibing too much caffeine. And the simplistic dismissal of right populism as racist and backward is equally flawed; Jacksonian America has its flaws but it is much more complex than its cultured despisers understand. These stereotyped views of American populism are caricatures and those who rely on them will repeatedly misunderstand the significance of events taking place before their eyes […]
More than the internet, what’s killing the MSM is bad ideas and superficial thinking. The group think mentality of the media herd rests on weak intellectual and historical foundations so that over and over the media take on a given event turns out to be fatally flawed. The public grows tired of this, and either tunes the news out altogether or turns to alternative media with alternative views.
To survive and thrive, the MSM needs to tweak its business models, but even more importantly it needs to reset its intellectual models. They don’t work. They are outdated.
This doesn’t mean the MSM needs to flip and embrace the Tea Party or appoint Glenn Beck to head NBC news. This is about sophistication much more than it is about partisanship. But make no mistake: without a richer, deeper, more layered view of how the world works, the MSM will continue to wither away.”
Mead’s point about the media’s lack of sophistication is very relevant when it comes to the left’s antipathy towards Israel: once the simplistic Israel-as-Goliath-Palestinians-as-David-narrative takes hold, leftist ideology requires sympathy and identification with the perceived underdog David – and indeed, it then becomes easy to argue that this is not just a question of political ideology, but human decency.
At this point, facts and rational debate are often replaced by appeals to emotion, and because this dynamic inevitably includes also negative emotions, the political discourse that is so important for liberal democracies can quickly become poisonous.
Leftist elites in the media and elsewhere may not be too concerned about that as long as the poison is directed against Israel, but Jews and the Jewish state are often just the canary in the coal mine: this is true, for example, when it comes to the abuse of international law by terrorist groups and their state sponsors, and it’s also true when it comes to a once widely trusted newspaper like the British Guardian.
To paraphrase Professor Mead’s criticism quoted above, it’s a good bet to assume that if there is plenty of evidence for “group think mentality of the media herd” when it comes to Israel, this is a pretty good indication for “weak intellectual and historical foundations” that will also affect the coverage of other issues.  Or, as I put it for my Twitter profile: The punditocracy that gets Israel wrong also gets a lot of other things wrong...

Posted on 08/31/2012 5:40 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
Khaled Abu Toameh: Those Millionaires In "Impoverished" Gaza

From the Gatestone Institute:

How Many Millionaires Live in the "Impoverished" Gaza Strip?

by Khaled Abu Toameh
August 30, 2012

If the Egyptian army succeeds in demolishing the underground smuggling tunnels that keep Hamas running, it could mark the end of the Islamists' rule over the Gaza Strip. But if Egypt's new president, Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood tie the hands of the Egyptian army's generals and keep them from completing the mission, Hamas will become even stronger and wealthier.

The world often thinks of the Gaza Strip, home to 1.4 million Palestinians, as one of the poorest places on earth, where people live in misery and squalor.

But according to an investigative report published in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, there are at least 600 millionaires living in the Gaza Strip. The newspaper report also refutes the claim that the Gaza Strip has been facing a humanitarian crisis because of an Israeli blockade.

Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian Authority security commander of the Gaza Strip, further said last week that Hamas was the only party that was laying siege to the Gaza Strip; that it is Hamas, and not Israel or Egypt, that is strangling and punishing the people there.

The Palestinian millionaires, according to the report, have made their wealth thanks to the hundreds of underground tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Informed Palestinian sources revealed that every day, in addition to weapons, thousands of tons of fuel, medicine, various types of merchandise, vehicles, electrical appliances, drugs, medicine and cigarettes are smuggled into the Gaza Strip through more than 400 tunnels. A former Sudanese government official who visited the Gaza Strip lately was quoted as saying that he found basic goods that were not available in Sudan. Almost all the tunnels are controlled by the Hamas government, which has established a special commission to oversee the smuggling business, which makes the Hamas government the biggest benefactor of the smuggling industry.

Palestinians estimate that 25% of the Hamas government's budget comes from taxes imposed on the owners of the underground tunnels.

For example, Hamas has imposed a 25% tax and a $2000 fee on every car that is smuggled into the Gaza Strip. Hamas also charges $15 dollars for each ton of cement, eight cents for a pack of cigarettes and 50 cents for each liter of fuel smuggled through the tunnels.

For Hamas, the Palestinian sources said, the tunnels are a matter of life or death.

Now, however, Hamas is facing a huge crisis as the Egyptian authorities plan to regain control over Sinai in the aftermath of the recent killing of 16 Egyptian border guards by unidentified terrorists.

The Egyptian army appears to be determined to destroy the underground tunnels out of fear that they are being used to smuggle not only goods and fuel, but also Islamist terrorists who pose a threat to Egypt's national security.

At this stage, however, it is not clear whether Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohamed Morsi, would allow his army to cut off one of Hamas's main sources of income. Morsi's policy thus far has been to embrace and strengthen Hamas at the expense of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

If the Egyptian army succeeds in its anti-terror security crackdown in Sinai, including the demolition of all the underground tunnels that keep Hamas running, it could mark the beginning of the end of the Islamist movement's rule over the Gaza Strip. But if Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood tie the hands of their generals and prevent them from completing the mission, Hamas will become even stronger and wealthier.

Posted on 08/31/2012 5:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
A Musical Interlude: After You've Gone (Gene Austin)

Listen here.

Posted on 08/31/2012 5:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
Teachers In France Now Taking Out Special Insurance Against '


Les enseignants s'assurent en masse contre la violence

Par Hayat Gazzane

  • le 31/08/2012

    Réactions (240)
    Les professeurs souscrivent des assurances complètes pour se protéger des violences.
    Les professeurs souscrivent des assurances complètes pour se protéger des violences. Crédits photo : PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP

    Près de la moitié des enseignants et personnels de direction a souscrit une assurance spéciale de la Maif qui leur assure un soutien financier et moral en cas d'agression ou d'accident.

    La recrudescence de la violence scolaire s'observe par le nombre de contrats d'assurance souscrits pas les enseignants pour se protéger. La Maif révèle ce vendredi que 55% des enseignants et la moitié du personnel de direction, soit près de 500.000 personnes, ont choisi pour cette rentrée 2012 de souscrire une assurance spéciale qui les couvre des accidents et des agressions, aussi bien moralement que physiquement.

    «A l' origine, l'assurance ne comportait qu'un premier volet d'aide de proximité juridique. Mais nous avons constaté que l'enseignant recherchait une protection plus complète et immédiate», explique Marie-Hélène Reynal. Les souscriptions ont bondi dès 2008, lorsque la Maif a élargi son contrat. Parmi les options qui séduisent le corps enseignant figurent «le volet assuranciel avec une responsabilité civile professionnelle, mais aussi une protection juridique et des garanties d'assurance corporelle», explique Marie-Hélène Reynal, chef produit marketing chez la Maif.

    Pour 40 euros par an, les enseignants victimes ou mis en cause dans des accidents ou des agressions bénéficient d'un soutien moral et psychologique, d'une prise en charge des frais d'hospitalisation, des pertes de revenus subies s'ils ne peuvent pas reprendre le travail, ou encore de remboursement des préjudices esthétiques. «Nous assurons aussi une prise en charge des frais et honoraires d'avocat et des conseils personnalisés en cas de litige», ajoute Marie-Hélène Reynal.

    «Les professeurs sont de plus en plus exposés»

    Une seule explication à ce phénomène: «une violence de plus en plus présente dans les établissements, entre les élèves, entre les professeurs et leurs élèves mais aussi avec leurs parents. Depuis une dizaine d'années, le respect s'est dilué. Les enseignants n'ont plus le soutien de leur hiérarchie. Leur parole est constamment mise en doute», déplore Olivia Millioz, porte-parole de l'association SOS Education, qui publie sur son site,, des témoignages anonymes de professeurs en détresse.

    Marie-Hélène Reynal cite en exemple un sociétaire projeté au sol par la mère d'un élève et qui, victime d'un arrêt de travail de sept jours, a porté plainte. «Les professeurs sont de plus en plus exposés et plus rapidement depuis la réforme sur la formation des professeurs qui fait l'objet d'une réflexion à laquelle participe d'ailleurs la Maif. De plus, la société civile est de plus en plus procédurière», constate-t-elle. «Cet accompagnement devient une évidence».


Posted on 08/31/2012 5:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
Obama Administration Doing Its Damnedest To Prevent Israel From Preemptively Defending Itself

From TIME:

U.S. Scales-Back Military Exercise with Israel, Affecting Potential Iran Strike

A smaller U.S. contingent may make it more difficult for the Israeli government to launch a pre-emptive strike on Tehran's nuclear program.
Israeli soldiers are seen during a military exercise in Golan Heights
Israeli soldiers are seen during a military exercise in Golan Heights, Aug. 21, 2012. Israeli Armed Forces have been conducting maneuvers amid raising tensions in the region.

Seven months ago, Israel and the United States postponed a massive joint military exercise that was originally set to go forward just as concerns were brimming that Israel would launch a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The exercise was rescheduled for late October, and appears likely to go forward on the cusp of the U.S. presidential election. But it won’t be nearly the same exercise. Well-placed sources in both countries have told TIME that Washington has greatly reduced the scale of U.S. participation, slashing by more than two-thirds the number of American troops going to Israel and reducing both the number and potency of missile interception systems at the core of the joint exercise.

“Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you,’” a senior Israeli military official tells TIME.

(PHOTOS: Land of Stories and Myths: Yaakov Israel Photographs His Homeland)

The reductions are striking. Instead of the approximately 5,000 U.S. troops originally trumpeted for Austere Challenge 12, as the annual exercise is called, the Pentagon will send only 1,500 service members, and perhaps as few as 1,200.  Patriot anti-missile systems will arrive in Israel as planned, but the crews to operate them will not.  Instead of two Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense warships being dispatched to Israeli waters, the new plan is to send one, though even the remaining vessel is listed as a “maybe,” according to officials in both militaries.

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to discuss specifics of the reduced deployment, noting that planning for the exercise was classified. But in an e-mailed statement, Commander Wendy L. Snyder emphasized that the Israeli military has been kept informed of the changes. “Throughout all the planning and coordination, we’ve been lock-step with the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and will continue to do so,” Snyder said.

U.S. commanders privately revealed the scaling back to their Israeli counterparts more than two months ago.  The official explanation was budget restrictions.  But the American retreat coincided with growing tensions between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations on Israel’s persistent threats to launch an airstrike on Iran. The Islamic Republic would be expected to retaliate by missile strikes, either through its own intermediate range arsenal or through its proxy, the Hizballah militia, which has more than 40,000 missiles aimed at Israel from neighboring Lebanon.

(MORE: Will Iran’s Third-World Jamboree Hasten an Israeli Attack? Probably Not)

In the current political context, the U.S. logic is transparent, says Israeli analyst Efraim Inbar. “I think they don’t want to insinuate that they are preparing something together with the Israelis against Iran – that’s the message,” says Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. “Trust? We don’t trust them. They don’t trust us. All these liberal notions! Even a liberal president like Obama knows better.”

The U.S. anti-missile systems are important because while Israel has made great strides in creating anti-missile shields that protect its population, it doesn’t have enough of them to deploy around the entire country, even with the U.S. aid specifically dedicated to building more (as well as crucial offensive capabilities, such as mid-air refuelers and possibly bunker-busting bombs).  That makes the presence of the Patriots – first deployed to Israel during the First Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein fired Scuds toward the Jewish State — and other U.S. anti-missile systems extremely valuable.  Austere Challenge was billed by assistant secretary of state Andrew J. Shapiro last November as “by far the largest and most significant exercise in U.S.-Israeli history.”  A stated goal was to “improve interoperability” between American and Israeli anti-missile systems – which are already significantly linked. The U.S. maintains an X-band radar installation in Israel’s Negev Desert, pointed toward Iran and linked to Israel’s Arrow anti-missile system.

(MORE: Is Israel Angling for a Commitment from Obama on Iran?)

The radar is extraordinarily powerful, so sensitive it can detect a softball thrown into the air from thousands of miles away.  But as TIME reported earlier, only Americans are allowed to see what’s on the screens, a situation that likely serves to inhibit any Israeli decision to “go it alone” against Iran, because the U.S. array can detect an Iranian missile launch six to seven minutes earlier than Israel’s best radar.  Difficult as it may be to imagine U.S. decision-makers holding back information that could save Israeli lives, both by giving them more time to reach a shelter, or their interceptors to lock onto and destroy an incoming Shahab-3, the risk looms in the complex calculus of Israeli officials mulling an attack on Iran.

Inside Israel, reports persist that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense chief Ehud Barak are determined to launch a strike, and American officials continue to urge restraint.  Israeli analysts say Netanyahu wants Obama to send a letter committing to U.S. military action by a specific date if Iran has not acceded to concessions, but the U.S. administration does not appear to be complying.  U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters in London this week  that a military strike could damage but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, and added, “I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.”


Does that mean that the Americans would not help Israel if Iran attacks it, no matter what the form the attack takes? Does it mean that the American military would refuse to exploit an israeli attack by following up with one of its own, to set back Iran's project still more? Why would the Americans be reluctant to do that? Do they think that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, Qatar would be disturbed by the removal of a clear threat to them? What makes the Americans, who spend trillions each year on their military, so reluctant to attack, so desperate not to attack, Iran?

There must be some calculation. But what is it? That Syria will be mad? And what can Bashir Assad do about it?

Posted on 08/31/2012 4:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
The Christians In Syria, Fearful Of The Sunnis And Exploited By Assad

L'avenir incertain des chrétiens de Syrie

Par Sébastien de Courtois

le 31/08/2012

Réactions (15)

Ravagée par les combats, cette église d'Homs ne semble pas avoir été visée en tant qu'édifice chrétien. Pour l'instant...
Ravagée par les combats, cette église d'Homs ne semble pas avoir été visée en tant qu'édifice chrétien. Pour l'instant... Crédits photo : © Stringer . / Reuters/REUTERS

Orthodoxes ou catholiques, ils composent entre 6 et 10 % de la population du pays. Certains font partie du bloc silencieux qui refuse d'intervenir dans le conflit, d'autres on rejoint l'armée syrienne libre. Mais tous craignent d'être victimes d'une répression quand le régime d'Assad tombera.

«La situation des chrétiens de Syrie est un paradoxe, explique par téléphone Mgr Yohanna Ibrahim, métropolite syriaque orthodoxe d'Alep. Notre histoire est celle d'une constante adaptation à des situations dangereuses, sur lesquelles nous n'avons aucun pouvoir... Le poids des chrétiens de Syrie est si faible que nous subissons depuis des siècles la loi du plus fort. Les révolutions ne sont jamais à notre avantage! À chaque changement de régime, nous perdons tout ce que la génération précédente a construit. Il faut se mettre à notre place. Nos enfants ne supportent plus ces compromissions, même si notre rôle est de rester en Orient. J'ai conscience que l'avenir s'assombrit chaque jour un peu plus... Les combats d'aujourd'hui rajoutent à la haine et au désir de vengeance...»

Il y a de l'amertume dans les propos de ce prélat oriental. Sa langue maternelle est l'araméen, un dialecte aussi ancien que l'argile dans lequel a été moulée l'histoire de la Mésopotamie. Depuis les fenêtres de son évêché, il entend le ballet des hélicoptères et des avions de chasse. Des rafales sporadiques et le coup sec des snipers. Alep se recouvre le soir d'un voile de poudre et de sang. Des hommes montent la garde devant le bâtiment. On ne sait jamais. Les combats se rapprochent. Le quartier chrétien de Jdéïdé a été pour la première fois le théâtre d'opérations militaires.

Les débordements sont possibles

Malgré les déclarations rassurantes des chefs de l'Armée syrienne libre vis-à-vis des chrétiens, les débordements sont possibles. «Nous craignons le pillage des maisons et l'attentat qui mettra le feu aux poudres», explique Georges, un chrétien melchite qui vient de quitter Alep pour Beyrouth, où sa famille vit déjà depuis deux mois. Même si ses proches et lui ne sont pas vraiment dans le besoin, Georges s'étend longuement sur ces familles pauvres d'Hama et d'Homs qui ont été obligées de partir au milieu de la bataille: «Comme beaucoup de Syriens, nous comptons les obus. L'attentisme n'est pas une solution de facilité ou une traîtrise comme j'ai pu le lire dans les médias occidentaux, mais la triste réalité... Que voulez-vous que nous fassions? Que je prenne à mon tour les armes? Contre qui? Dois-je envoyer mes fils tirer sur les soldats de l'armée nationale? Une armée de conscription? Dois-je enfin cautionner une révolte organisée par des gens qui nous détestent?» Autant de questions qui résument l'ambiguïté de ce conflit, comme les positions du clergé qui oscillent entre un soutien clair au régime et un silence de prudence: «Il est clair, continue Georges, que tous savent ce qui se passe réellement, personne n'est dupe des mensonges de la propagande officielle. Nous avons appris à nous taire. Personne ne peut le comprendre, surtout ceux qui n'ont jamais vécu sous une dictature. Il est dangereux de laisser croire que les chrétiens sont proches du parti Baas... Nous aussi, nous avons nos martyrs, nos torturés et nos bannis...» La caricature est facile.

«Le clergé s'est montré dans l'ensemble loyaliste», confirme à son tour Frédéric Pichon, historien et spécialiste des chrétiens de Syrie. «Certains responsables sont franchement pro-régime, mais on doit toujours se garder de juger de l'extérieur. Ces positions correspondent à une attitude traditionnelle qui est celle d'une minorité très sensible historiquement à l'insécurité qui caractérise son existence en terre d'Islam: les chrétiens de Damas, j'ai pu le vérifier, ont encore la mémoire des massacres de 1860. Pour autant, tous, y compris la hiérarchie, vous avouent que des réformes étaient nécessaires, que la corruption régnait, mais refusent la violence. Certains même que je savais plutôt hostiles à la dictature m'ont dit leur écoeurement, haïssant cette révolution qui les pousse dans les bras du régime...» La rengaine est connue depuis la médiatisation des rares ministres chrétiens de Saddam Hussein en Irak, mais en Syrie aussi: les chrétiens sont devenus pour l'opinion publique les enfants chéris du régime! Et pourtant, ceux qui ont voyagé en Syrie ces dernières années ont pu constater que la réalité était loin d'être ce tableau idyllique. Si le régime syrien a fait de la cohabitation pacifique des communautés religieuses un slogan de propagande, il l'a vidé de sa substance. L'angoisse n'est pas seulement syrienne. Elle est régionale. Le traumatisme de la situation irakienne reste dans toutes les mémoires.

La radicalisation du discours de part et d'autre est à craindre

Tous se souviennent des attentats, des enlèvements et des massacres visant précisément la communauté chrétienne. Depuis 2003, la Syrie a absorbé près de 2 millions de réfugiés irakiens - appartenant à toutes les confessions - chacun avec son propre drame. Autant de raisons, pour les Syriens, de craindre une telle évolution. «La situation irakienne a été un véritable cas d'école pour les chrétiens de Syrie qui ont vu affluer près de 200.000 chrétiens d'Irak. Ces derniers sont dans une situation ubuesque puisque condamnés à retourner dans le pays qu'ils avaient fui!» confirme Frédéric Pichon. La tentation de l'exil se fait à nouveau sentir pour des milliers de familles. Cette fois-ci, direction la montagne libanaise, le vieux pays chrétien où l'on se sent en sécurité. Les plus chanceux y ont déjà un parent pour les accueillir, les autres bénéficient de l'aide des Églises locales. Le patriarcat syriaque catholique de Beyrouth accueille ainsi plusieurs familles. Dans ce genre de situation, ceux qui ont les moyens sont déjà partis. Seuls les plus pauvres restent, ceux des régions déshéritées du Nord-Est syrien, par exemple, la zone kurde de Qamishli et Hassaké. La sociologie des chrétiens de Syrie n'est pas homogène, d'où la complexité de décrire un comportement politique que l'on voudrait uniforme. Les orthodoxes sont majoritaires, mais il faut aussi compter sur des maronites, des grecs-catholiques, des Arméniens, et nombre d'Églises de tradition syriaque rattachées ou pas à Rome. Les chrétiens sont les seuls, contrairement aux Druzes, aux Alaouites ou aux Kurdes, à ne pas disposer d'un «réduit» territorial.

«Je ne pense pas qu'il y ait un programme spécifiquement antichrétien porté par l'opposition: le conflit porte essentiellement sur la rivalité sunnites-chiites. En revanche, les vieux réflexes qui sont ceux des situations d'après-guerre civile, avec leurs lots de règlements de comptes, de jalousies et d'anarchie risquent de toucher les chrétiens et les Alaouites. Il est troublant de voir que Laurent Fabius a tenté d'obtenir des oulémas d'al-Azhar des fatwas pour protéger les minorités en Syrie: ce qui prouve que les chancelleries occidentales s'attendent au pire», continue Frédéric Pichon. Sur la question d'éventuelles persécutions antichrétiennes, il faut être très prudent. Mgr Yohanna ne mentionne pour le moment aucun fait particulier pouvant aller dans ce sens, sinon à Qusayr, une vendetta entre familles qui a entraîné l'élimination de la plupart des individus mâles d'un clan chrétien qui avait, semble-t-il, coopéré avec l'armée contre les rebelles. «Cela ne justifie en aucun cas une telle escalade de violence, continue Frédéric Pichon, mais disons que la question confessionnelle passe au second plan. Gardons-nous des réflexes primaires. La radicalisation du discours de part et d'autre est à craindre, voulant faire de ce conflit une guerre de religion. Les groupes djihadistes et l'idéologie islamiste qui imprègnent la «révolution» en Syrie sont formatés par leurs bailleurs de fonds, les monarchies pétrolières du Golfe dont l'islam fondamentaliste est bien éloigné des traditions pacifiques de coexistence avec les chrétiens que porte l'islam tel que pratiqué en Syrie depuis des siècles.»

En Syrie et en Europe, plusieurs chrétiens ont rejoint les rangs du CNS, le Conseil national syrien, au nombre de sept membres officiels, dont un siégeant au sein du bureau exécutif, Abdelahad Astepho, que l'on voit souvent à la télévision aux côtés du président du CNS. «Ils oeuvrent pour la reconnaissance des droits des chrétiens de Syrie, m'explique Naher, un jeune militant chrétien des droits de l'homme résidant à Bruxelles. Nous ne sommes pas dupes, nous savons que nous manifestons à côté d'islamistes patentés. Un jour, ceux qui nous rejettent parmi le clergé seront bien contents lorsque le régime sera tombé de voir qu'il y a eu des chrétiens pour appuyer le changement...» Un message d'espoir, donc, une sorte d'assurance-vie pour ce jeune homme qui parle de retour au pays, de vivre en Syrie ou au Liban après les «événements» afin de retrouver «l'odeur de ses racines».

Posted on 08/31/2012 4:42 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
Krauthammer On The Baseless Complacency Of "Deterrence Works"

From The Washington Post:

The ‘deterrence works’ fantasy

By ,

August 30, 2012

There are few foreign-policy positions more silly than the assertion without context that “deterrence works.” It is like saying air power works. Well, it worked for Kosovo; it didn’t work over North Vietnam.

It’s like saying city-bombing works. It worked in Japan 1945 (Tokyo through Nagasaki). It didn’t in the London blitz.

The idea that some military technique “works” is meaningless. It depends on the time, the circumstances, the nature of the adversaries. The longbow worked for Henry V. At El Alamein, however, Montgomery chose tanks.

Yet a significant school of American “realists” remains absolutist on deterrence and is increasingly annoyed with those troublesome Israelis who are sowing fear, rattling world markets and risking regional war by threatening a preemptive strike to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Don’t they understand that their fears are grossly exaggerated? After all, didn’t deterrence work during 40 years of Cold War?

Indeed, a few months ago, columnist Fareed Zakaria made that case by citing me writing in defense of deterrence in the early 1980s at the time of the nuclear freeze movement. And yet now, writes Zakaria, Krauthammer (and others on the right) “has decided that deterrence is a lie.”

Nonsense. What I have decided is that deterring Iran is fundamentally different from deterring the Soviet Union. You could rely on the latter but not on the former.

The reasons are obvious and threefold:

(1) The nature of the regime.

Did the Soviet Union in its 70 years ever deploy a suicide bomber? For Iran, as for other jihadists, suicide bombing is routine. Hence the trail of self-immolation, from the 1983 Marine barracks attack in Beirut to the Bulgaria bombing of July 2012.

Iran’s clerical regime rules in the name of a fundamentalist religion for whom the hereafter offers the ultimate rewards. For Soviet communists — thoroughly, militantly atheistic — such thinking was an opiate-laced fairy tale.

For all its global aspirations, the Soviet Union was intensely nationalist. The Islamic Republic sees itself as an instrument of its own brand of Shiite millenarianism — the messianic return of the “hidden Imam.”

It’s one thing to live in a state of mutual assured destruction with Stalin or Brezhnev, leaders of a philosophically materialist, historically grounded, deeply here-and-now regime. It’s quite another to be in a situation of mutual destruction with apocalyptic clerics who believe in the imminent advent of the Mahdi, the supremacy of the afterlife and holy war as the ultimate avenue to achieving it.

The classic formulation comes from Tehran’s fellow (and rival Sunni) jihadist al-Qaeda: “You love life and we love death.” Try deterring that.

(2) The nature of the grievance.

The Soviet quarrel with America was ideological. Iran’s quarrel with Israel is existential. The Soviets never proclaimed a desire to annihilate the American people. For Iran, the very existence of a Jewish state on Muslim land is a crime, an abomination, a cancer with which no negotiation, no coexistence, no accommodation is possible.

(3) The nature of the target.

America is a nation of 300 million; Israel, 8 million. America is a continental nation; Israel, a speck on the map, at one point eight miles wide. Israel is a “one-bomb country.” Its territory is so tiny, its population so concentrated that, as Iran’s former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has famously said, “Application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.” A tiny nuclear arsenal would do the job.

In U.S.-Soviet deterrence, both sides knew that a nuclear war would destroy them mutually. The mullahs have thought the unthinkable to a different conclusion. They know about the Israeli arsenal. They also know, as Rafsanjani said, that in any exchange Israel would be destroyed instantly and forever, whereas the ummah — the Muslim world of 1.8 billion people whose redemption is the ultimate purpose of the Iranian revolution — would survive damaged but almost entirely intact.

This doesn’t mean that the mullahs will necessarily risk terrible carnage to their country in order to destroy Israel irrevocably. But it does mean that the blithe assurance to the contrary — because the Soviets never struck first — is nonsense. The mullahs have a radically different worldview, a radically different grievance and a radically different calculation of the consequences of nuclear war.

The confident belief that they are like the Soviets is a fantasy. That’s why Israel is contemplating a preemptive strike. Israel refuses to trust its very existence to the convenient theories of comfortable analysts living 6,000 miles from its Ground Zero.

Posted on 08/31/2012 4:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 31 August 2012
On a Wounded Fawn Appearing in my Yard

by Mark Anthony Signorelli (September 2012)

  The quiet rains of the spring,

And dusk, that creeps through the leaves

Obscurely and sly, had fallen

Already upon the grass,

When from my window I spied,

As feeding and wandering both,

A hobbled fawn, that went there  more>>>

Posted on 08/31/2012 3:18 PM by NER
Friday, 31 August 2012

by Len Krisak (September 2012)

His toes aspire to the station vault,

The lace gone missing from one pointed shoe.

That this might not be anybody's fault:

A thought that for the nonce will have to do.  more>>>

Posted on 08/31/2012 3:13 PM by NER
Friday, 31 August 2012
“If Quires Of Angels Did Rejoice...”

by John M. Joyce (September 2012)

Summer in my parish is usually a time of warmth and light and long, long evenings spent sitting out on our lawns, or on the green in front of the pub, waiting for the heat indoors to abate so that one can go to bed. It's the season of cool ale from deep cellars, of drying herbs and cut flowers under the eaves, of tomatoes and other crops gently ripening in greenhouses and of herbaceous borders abuzz with honey bees. The pace of life is usually gentle and although for us country folk harvesting God's bounty is a year round and joyful labour there is a perceptible and welcome slackening in the demands of nature by midsummer.  more>>>

Posted on 08/31/2012 3:07 PM by NER
Friday, 31 August 2012
Why I Publish EBooks

by Richard Kostelanetz (September 2012)

Now in my seventies, I was probably slower than younger colleagues in signing onto the Internet and thus even slower in realizing the possibilities of publishing ebooks. Not unlike other writers my age, I’ve always thought of bound volumes at the ultimate goal for a writer, not only if I completed them from scratch, but in collecting fugitive texts of mine that had previously appeared in, say, periodicals. To a bound-book man such as myself, even scriptwriting, so attractive to younger writers, was a distraction strictly for hacks. On another hand, since 1975 I’ve committed myself to explore new technologies for publishing my words—first audiotape, then videotape, film, holograms, and multi-projection installations.  more>>>

Posted on 08/31/2012 3:00 PM by NER
Friday, 31 August 2012
The State to Live and Die In

by Matthew Walther (September 2012)

Lionel Asbo: State of England

by Martin Amis
Alfred A. Knopf. 255 pp.

In his thirteenth novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England, Martin Amis’s fiction appears to have reached what Henry James, in reference to Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, calls “permanent exhaustion.”  more>>>

Posted on 08/31/2012 2:55 PM by NER
Friday, 31 August 2012
Elizabethan Tragedy: Revengers and Over Reachers

by David Hamilton (September 2012)

The great period of English tragic drama was the Elizabethan period when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne. There were two principle forms: Revenge and Over Reachers tragedies. I examine two of each to introduce a new audience to these great plays.  more>>>

Posted on 08/31/2012 2:50 PM by NER
Friday, 31 August 2012
An Islamic Reading of King Henry IV

by David P. Gontar (September 2012)


I.  Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Sinraj Ad-Din)

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of contemporary Shakespeare studies is the insouciant ease with which partisan exegetes commend pet paradigms and models to an unsuspecting public. In the welter of contending voices few there are who habitually test their own premises. Whence cometh such sanguine assurance? It is quite impossible, says the Renaissance specialist, to conceive that Shakespeare was not an artist steeped in the amiable cynicism and benign worldliness of Montaigne, Chaucer, Boccaccio, Castiglione, Golding, Marguerite of Navarre, et al. On the other hand, it is equally apparent to champions of medievalism that Shakespeare was a matchless reactionary, who served as a staunch "continuer and the summer-up of the past, the last outpost of a quickly vanishing age." (Lings, 9, emphasis added) For Martin Lings, an Islamic mystic and antiquarian, it is plain that Shakespeare is about the "perfecting" of the human soul in relation to the "Spirit."  more>>>

Posted on 08/31/2012 2:41 PM by NER
Showing 1-21 of 343 [Next 20]