Sunday, 30 September 2012
The Onward March Of Islamic Science
To learn of the latest advances, watch here.
Posted on 09/30/2012 10:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Don't Send Any Non-Islamic Art Back To Muslim-Ruled Turkey

From The New York Times:

September 30, 2012

Museums Fret As Turks Seek Return of Art

ISTANBUL — An aggressive campaign by Turkey to reclaim antiquities it says were looted has led in recent months to the return of an ancient sphinx and many golden treasures from the region’s rich past. But it has also drawn condemnation from some of the world’s largest museums, which call the campaign cultural blackmail.

In their latest salvo, Turkish officials this summer filed a criminal complaint in the Turkish court system seeking an investigation into what they say was the illegal excavation of 18 objects that are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Norbert Schimmel collection.

Last year, Turkish officials recalled, Turkey’s director-general of cultural heritage and museums, Murat Suslu, presented Met officials with a stunning ultimatum: prove the provenance of ancient figurines and golden bowls in the collection, or Turkey could halt lending treasures. Turkey says that threat has now gone into effect.

“We know 100 percent that these objects at the Met are from Anatolia,” the Turkish region known for its ancient ruins, Mr. Suslu, an archaeologist, said in an interview. “We only want back what is rightfully ours.”

Turkey’s efforts have spurred an international debate about who owns antiquities after centuries of shifting borders. Museums like the Met, the Getty, the Louvre and the Pergamon in Berlin say their mission to display global art treasures is under siege from Turkey’s tactics.

Museum directors say the repatriation drive seeks to alter accepted practices, like a widely embraced Unesco convention that lets museums acquire objects that were outside their countries of origin before 1970. Although Turkey ratified the convention in 1981, it is now citing a 1906 Ottoman-era law — one that banned the export of artifacts — to claim any object removed after that date as its own.

Thievery and looting are wrong, Turkey says, no matter when they occurred. “Artifacts, just like people, animals or plants, have souls and historical memories,” said Turkey’s culture minister, Ertugrul Gunay. “When they are repatriated to their countries, the balance of nature will be restored.”

Turkey is not alone in demanding the return of artifacts removed from its borders; Egypt and Greece have made similar demands of museums, and Italy persuaded the Met to return an ancient bowl known as the Euphronios krater in 2006.

But Turkey’s aggressive tactics, which come as the country has been asserting itself politically in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring, have particularly alarmed museums. Officials here are refusing to lend treasures, delaying the licensing of archaeological excavations and publicly shaming museums.

The Turks are engaging in polemics and nasty politics,” said Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Pergamon. “They should be careful about making moral claims when their museums are full of looted treasures” acquired, he said, by the Ottomans in their centuries ruling parts of the Middle East and southeast Europe.

One example is a prized sarcophagus named for Alexander the Great, discovered in Sidon, Lebanon, in 1887, and now in Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum. Mr. Suslu said the sarcophagus was legally Turkey’s because it had been excavated on territory that belonged to Turkey at the time.

Turkey’s campaign has enjoyed notable success, however. Last year the Pergamon agreed to return a 3,000-year-old sphinx from the Hittite Empire that Turkey said had been taken to Germany for restoration in 1917. German officials said Turkey had threatened to block major archaeological projects if the sphinx did not come home.

But even after it had, the Germans complained, Turkey still declined to collaborate and refused to lend four objects for a current exhibition. Mr. Suslu indicated that the Pergamon had to return other disputed items before loans would resume.

Mr. Parzinger said Turkey had no legal claim to the contested objects it says his museum has illegally, and that treating Germany like a petty thief puts more than a century of archaeological cooperation at risk and harms relations between the countries as Turkey seeks to join the European Union. He pointed out that Westerners had been at the forefront of safeguarding Turkey’s rich history.

“If all Westerners are just thieves and robbers,” he asked, “then who has been restoring their cultural heritage?”

In another victory for Turkey, last month the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology announced that it had agreed to lend indefinitely 24 artifacts to Turkey from ancient Troy whose murky provenance helped inspire the 1970 Unesco convention. Turkey, in turn, promised future loans and collaboration with the university. [what a crazed decision]

Some museum directors said that they feared that the surrender of the objects by the university, which acquired them in 1966, threatened to lead to a flood of further claims.

In September 2011, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, returned the top half of an 1,800-year-old statue, “Weary Herakles,” which the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, triumphantly took home on his government jet. [Greek art? Back to Turkey, where Greek artifacts, art, buildings, have ever since the conquest by Muslims  been destroyed, or looted, vandalized -- see what was done to the art in the Hagia Sophia -- only the frescoes in the former church now known as n as the Kariya Djami -- Underwood did a 2-volume study put out by the Bollingen Foundation -- are still more or less intact]..

To press the Met for documentation on the Schimmel objects, Turkish officials said they had refused to lend to a Met exhibition that ran this year, “Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition.”

The Met denied it had asked Turkey for pieces for the show. Its director, Thomas P. Campbell, said in an interview that the Met believed the objects sought by Turkey had been legally acquired by Norbert Schimmel in the European antiquities market in the 1960s before being donated to the museum in 1989, and thus were in compliance with the Unesco accord.

He acknowledged that most of the objects had no documented ownership history, but also said that there was no evidence of an illicit excavation. Turkish officials said they had not yet uncovered evidence proving that the objects had been illegally smuggled out.

“If evidence emerges that the objects were illegally excavated or looted, we will address that on a case-by-case basis,” Mr. Campbell said.

Mr. Campbell said the argument that objects should always be returned to their countries of origin was dubious, given that many artifacts had traveled throughout the centuries. “We are in the business of celebrating Turkish culture,” he said, “and it is the great displays in London, Paris and New York, more than anything else, that will encourage people to go to Turkey and explore their cultural heritage, and not just the sun and beach.

Marc Masurovsky, an expert on plundered art at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, said it was no surprise that in the absence of an international agency to enforce anti-plunder measures, the Turks were resorting to hard-nosed diplomacy. But Turkey faces hurdles trying to apply an Ottoman law outside its borders, he noted. And even if that law is accepted as applicable, dating the illegal excavation of any site is difficult because no records are typically kept.

Still, Mr. Suslu said nothing justified theft, and he pointed to the Louvre’s possession of late-16th-century Iznik tiles that had been stolen, he said, by the French restorer Albert Sorlin-Dorigny in the 1880s. The tiles, from the mausoleum of Sultan Selim II in Istanbul, were taken to Paris for repair, but he said Sorlin-Dorigny gave them to the Louvre in 1895 instead of returning them.

The Louvre did not respond to messages seeking comment. Turkish officials said that the French insist that the tiles were given to Sorlin-Dorigny by a member of the royal family, but that they did not offer any documentary proof.

“Who in his right mind would give a present from his own relative’s tomb to a foreign country?” Mr. Suslu asked. “If you come to my house and you steal precious objects from me, do I not have a right to get them back?”
Posted on 09/30/2012 9:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Serge Elisséeff Would Have Liked It

This month's picture, I mean, by Whistler. Chosen by Rebecca. Don't you like it, and like it more the more you look at it?

Serge  Elisséeff, the first director of the Harvard-Yenching Institute, and the most celebrated Western scholar of Japan in his day, was a third son of one of several brothers who together owned a famous store --the Elisseeff Emporium -- in a famous art-nouveau building,  in St. Petersburg. His lack of interest in the family business, which business however paid for the elaborate education that allowed him his subsequent scholarly pursuits, puts me in mind of Lincoln Kirstein.  Kirstein put his Filene's Department Store money into the New York City Ballet, and Balanchine. Serge  Elisséeff invested  his money in private tutors, including -- while he lived in Japan -- round-the-clock tutors of the Japanese language. He had the kind of education that was only possible before the Great War, the kind that only money could buy.

Yes, he would have liked the choice of that painting, Whistler's The Golden Screen, as: NER's Miss October..

As do you and I and many others who come to this site.

But in a different way.

Posted on 09/30/2012 9:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Kindly, Grandfatherly Cleric Saad Arafat Helps The Children To Understand

Watch his lesson, for four little children learning about the Prophet and those who insult him,and how to deal with them, here. 

This is a clip worth sending out urbi et orbi, especially to those whom you know who still refuse to grasp the nature of Islam. Let them see this clip, and then let them sample the offerings at that most revealing of websites, MEMRI.

Posted on 09/30/2012 8:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Server Problems - Comment Links not Working

We are sorry to inform our readers that we have been experiencing severe internal server problems all day. We have sent emails to our webmaster at ICG Link with no response (it's Sunday).

That is why you may be unable to comment on some of our main articles. Hopefully, this will be fixed tomorrow sometime. So hold those comments and we'll get the links up as soon as possible.

UPDATE: We have receved a response and they are working on it.

Posted on 09/30/2012 3:37 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
A Tipping Point in North Africa and the Middle East

by Jerry Gordon & Mike Bates (October 2012)

The eleventh anniversary of 9/11 broke like a thunder clap in North Africa sparking outrage and violence  throughout the Muslim Ummah.  It began with the  premeditated attack on the Benghazi consulate in Libya by a force of Ansar al-Sharia militia led by an ex-GITMO detainee equipped with heavy weapons, rocket propelled grenades and diesel fuel. They seized a safe house and caused the death of US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens (from smoke inhalation) and dragged his body unceremoniously through the streets to the cries of "Allahu Akbar!"  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2012 3:29 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Hillary’s Pulpit

by G. Murphy Donovan (October 2012)

“Bully pulpit” is a phrase coined by Teddy Roosevelt to describe the White House as a platform from which to promote an agenda. Today, almost any high office might be seen as a bully pulpit. Take, as an example, the American Secretary of State, an office now occupied by Mrs. William Clinton.  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2012 2:32 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
No Ethnic Vote is Cast in Stone – Not Even the Jewish One

by Norman Berdichevsky (October 2012)

A lead editorial in a Florida Jewish community magazine that appeared simultaneously with the opening of the Democrats’ convention in Charlotte in early September walked the narrow tightrope of not openly supporting either the Republican or Democrat candidates but instead sought to make a strong case that “Jews Should Vote with Religion in Mind” arguing that after all, "self-interest" should be the best policy and that both Jewish wisdom and pride suggested that Jews should vote for candidates who don’t just say what they want to hear but are indeed committed to an unbreakable bond with Israel as a close ally.  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2012 2:10 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Europe’s Crisis of Faith

by Fergus Downie (September 2012)

Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.  

                                                - Alfred Toynbee

The spectre of Islam is haunting Europe though in Britain etiquette dictates we couch this in terms of religious extremism. Needless to say, the threat posed to our settled liberties by Quaker fundamentalists is at the time of writing unspecified, and these leaden attempts to be even handed can also be glimpsed in the draconian strengthening of European traditions of laïcité to deal with what is transparently a problem of Muslim integration.  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2012 2:00 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Some Reflections on the Passing of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon

by Richard L. Rubenstein (October 2012)

Of all the leaders I have known, few have meant more to me than the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. I first met him when I was invited to participate at the annual meeting of the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS) in Washington Thanksgiving weekend 1976. At the time, I was a fellow at the National Humanities Institute at Yale. When word got around that I had accepted the invitation, one well-connected member of the Yale faculty took me to lunch and urged me not to attend.  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2012 1:55 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
The Role of Infanticide and Abortion in Pagan Rome’s Decline

by Emmet Scott (October 2012)

Theories about the fall of Rome have been thick on the ground for many centuries. The “traditional” view, that it had been caused by the violence of the invading barbarians in the fifth century, was seriously undermined by the application of new and more stringent methods of historical enquiry during the nineteenth century. Indeed, by the first decades of the twentieth century it had become apparent that, as an imperial power, Rome was already in a fairly advanced state of decay by the end of the second century – over two hundred years before the official “end” of the Empire in 476.  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2012 1:42 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
What Max Boot Cannot Comprehend

by Hugh Fitzgerald (October 2012)

Max Boot and Michael Doran proclaim in the New York Times that:

"There are five reasons to bring down President Bashar al-Assad sooner rather than later."


Posted on 09/30/2012 1:30 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
A New Squirearchy

by Theodore Dalrymple (October 2012)

It is likely – and here I speak from personal experience – that most journalists, who know full well that what they write will be forgotten even before the reader has finished reading it, harbour the hope of some kind or measure of immortality, in other words that at least something of what they have written will continue to be read after their deaths. And so it is not at all comforting for them to have to remember that by no means all good books survive, except in the sense of mouldering on remote shelves in the ever-fewer second-hand bookshops of the world; mere merit is no guarantee of other forms of survival.  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2012 1:22 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Let Muslims Lend To Muslims, While Non-Muslims Keep Their Distance
From AlAhram Online:
President Morsi's visit pays dividends as Ankara agrees to a new aid package
Turkey approves $1bn loan for Egypt
In this photo provided by Turkish Prime Minister's Press Service,Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi salute the members of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. (Photo: AP)

Turkey has agreed a $1 billion loan for Egypt during President Mohamed Morsi's visit to the country, the state-run MENA news agency reported on Sunday.
The borrowing is the first tranche of a total reported $2 billion Turkish aid package for Cairo.
Morsi on Sunday attended the annual conference of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
On his first visit to Turkey as Egyptian president, Morsi spoke from the stage and urged his audince to support "the nations that are aspiring to freedom and independence."
Addressing the Turkish nation specifically, Morsi added: "The Arab world and the Arab Spring need you and your support to achieve sought-for stability."
Posted on 09/30/2012 1:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
The Bruised Heel Healed

by Theodore Dalrymple (October 2012)

There is a baby in the world that seems never to get beyond its ninth month. It has been following me for at least forty years, but it makes its appearance only when I board a long-distance aircraft, when it is to be found in the row immediately behind or in front of me, and proceeds to scream unconsolably for what seems like an age from the moment of takeoff. All manner of paranoid thoughts then come into my mind: for example that the airline has designedly, though for reasons that I cannot fathom even in my paranoid moments, disturbed my peace and prevented me from reading by seating the baby there, very close to me. In any case, why does that wretched creature never grow up? For if there is one sound in the whole world that cannot be ignored or screened out by attention to something else it is that of a baby crying on an aircraft.  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2012 1:13 PM by NER
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Only Independence For Baluchistan Makes Moral And Geopolitical Sense

Apology won't solve Balochistan issue: Mengal

30 September, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Former Chief Minister Balochistan Akhtar Mengal talking to the media persons after a meeting with Chairman Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf Imran K
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ISLAMABAD: Balochistan Nationalist Party (BNP) chief and former Balochistan chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal said Baloch people have been deprived of their rights for the last 65 years, and that an apology was not the solution of the Balochistan issue.

He was addressing a joint press conference with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Saturday. Mengal said elections were not their preference; in fact they wanted solution of the Balochistan issue.

Mengal thanked Imran Khan for supporting his six points and all other political parties for supporting and expressing solidarity with the people of Balochistan. He said they were very weak, and that they could only render their lives. He also said supporters of hundreds of Baloch families had been killed or kidnapped.

Talking about the involvement of external hands in Balochistan's deteriorating law and order situation, the BNP chief said if there was such an involvement then why do Interior Minister Rehman Malik and intelligence agencies not disclose those behind it.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said political problems should be resolved politically and not through military action. "We must learn from mistakes made earlier in East Pakistan and ensure justice and rule of law for the people of Balochistan," he said, adding the government was doing nothing in Balochistan and Karachi as it was the FC and Rangers that were operating in both areas, respectively. [Imran Khan, well-known in the West, and no friend to it, calls the mass-murder of millions in Bangladesh by the Pakistan army "mistakes"]

He said, "We have learnt nothing from the Bangladesh incident."

Khan said the time had come to forget the past and build a new Pakistan. He said the people of Balochistan had the first right over their natural resources. It is sad that Balochistan was the last to receive gas from Sui, he added. The PTI chairman said he would solve the Balochistan problem on priority basis if elected to power. Khan said that the PTI's sympathies were with the Baloch people.

Earlier, the two leaders at a meeting discussed the law and order situation in Balochistan. PTI President Javed Hashmi, Inam Haq, Akmal Mirza and other leaders were also present on the occasion.

Posted on 09/30/2012 1:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
That Afghan-American Arranged Marriage, Where A Forlorn Hope Still Truimphs Over Experience

From The New York Times:

September 30, 2012

5 Dead After Clash Between U.S. and Afghan Troops

KABUL, Afghanistan — Only two days after joint operations between American and Afghan forces were said to be returning to normal, five people — two Americans and three Afghans — were killed when a pitched battle broke out between soldiers of the two sides, American and Afghan officials said Sunday.

Afghan officials said that the clash on Saturday was a misunderstanding and that the Americans apparently attacked an Afghan National Army unit in error. A top coalition officer said the Americans were attacked first in what might possibly have been an insurgent attack. Nonetheless, he expressed regret for what ensued.

An initial statement from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, commonly referred to as ISAF, on Sunday described the episode as “a suspected insider attack,” which killed a foreign soldier and a civilian contractor. If so, that would bring to 53 the number of coalition forces killed in the so-called insider attacks this year.

Whatever happened, the episode clearly was another in a series of setbacks this year, and particularly in the last month, in relations between the American and Afghan militaries. It comes at a delicate moment, when all of the American surge reinforcements have only recently left the country, and NATO has been trying to transfer ever greater responsibility to a growing Afghan military.

Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for the governor in Wardak Province where the fighting occurred, said the deaths came “after a clash ensued between two sides following a misunderstanding.” An Afghan official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to release details, said that a mortar shell had landed amid the American unit, killing a soldier and a civilian contractor and wounding several others. The Americans thought it came from a nearby Afghan National Army checkpoint on a hill overhead and attacked it with small arms and rockets, killing three and wounding three of the seven soldiers there, the official said.

The Wardak provincial police chief, Abdul Qayoum Baqizoi, said the fight broke out when an Afghan soldier among seven soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire on the Americans; in the ensuing gun battle, three Afghan soldiers were killed, including the one who fired first. “We still don’t have a clear picture of what happened,” Mr. Baqizoi said. He quoted the lone Afghan soldier who was unhurt as saying, “ ‘I heard some noise and verbal argument and suddenly heard the shooting and then one of the coalition soldiers threw a hand grenade so I fled from the checkpost and hid myself behind our Humvee.’ ”

Significantly, according to Afghan officials, the American unit, which was relatively small in size and manning a temporary checkpoint in the Sayid Abad district, was not partnered with Afghan forces. The unit was conducting a biometric survey, in which details like fingerprints and eye scans are gathered from the local population, often at temporary checkpoints, in an effort to screen for insurgents.

Normally such operations would consist of American and Afghan forces working together, but in recent weeks the American military has issued orders that all joint operations with units smaller than a battalion (400 to 800 soldiers) need to be approved in advance by a general commanding one of the six military regions in Afghanistan. Most joint operations take place at small unit levels.

At a hastily convened news conference on Sunday to discuss the clash, the deputy ISAF commander, Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw read a brief statement that did little to clarify what happened between the ISAF and Afghan National Army, or ANA, soldiers. “What was initially reported to have been a suspected insider attack is now understood to possibly have involved insurgent fire,” General Bradshaw said. “After a short conversation took place between ANA and ISAF personnel, firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of an ISAF soldier and the death of his civilian colleague. In an ensuing exchange of fire three ANA personnel are reported to have died.”

“We deeply regret the loss of life in this tragic incident,” General Bradshaw said.

Asked if the restrictions on joint patrolling were a factor in Saturday’s clash, General Bradshaw did not respond to the question, saying instead that the restrictions were not a change in strategy but were prompted by increased caution about the reaction in a Muslim country to the incendiary video recently posted on YouTube that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad.

Insider attacks this year have increased greatly compared with 2011, when there were 35 over 12 months, arousing concern in the coalition, as well as in Western capitals. French forces announced that they were leaving by the end of next year, a year earlier than originally planned, after losing four of their soldiers in an insider attack in January.

In addition to restricting joint patrols by small units, the military has also required its forces to wear body armor and carry loaded weapons whenever they are in the presence of Afghan forces. And early in September training activities between Special Operations troops and new Afghan Local Police recruits were suspended because of several insider attacks involving the militia forces. While those restrictions remain in force, Pentagon officials on Thursday said that joint operations among smaller units were returning to normal levels because of expedited approvals by higher commanders.

A senior American military officer said recently that only a fourth of the insider attacks could be definitely linked to insurgent infiltration of the Afghan security forces, and another fourth were judged to have been caused by personal disputes. The rest, however, usually resulted in the death of the perpetrator and it was unclear what the cause was.

“If you visit people in the field who are working together closely, in thousands of interactions every day you see strong trusting relationships resulting in cooperative operations delivering success every day in the field,” General Bradshaw said at the news conference. “So whilst these incidents do represent the means by which the enemy seeks to drive a wedge between ISAF and our allies, the fact is they have not succeeded in doing this.”

Taliban insurgents routinely claim credit for insider attacks, saying the infiltrator intended to be killed in the attack.

The Afghan military has stepped up its screening of recruits, and has dismissed hundreds in recent months because of suspicions about their identity or past activities.
Posted on 09/30/2012 12:50 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Neither The Greater Nor The Lesser Anit-Jihad Are Being Recognized

From The National Interest:

Dispatches From The War That Nobody Wants

As everybody knows, there is no such thing as a global war on terror anymore. Instead we live in a harmonious world of interfaith comity with only the occasional criminal act that is quickly and competently handled by law enforcement officials. As a result we can cut our defense budgets and get on with the real business of life, which is to say watching TV, going to the mall and voting to re-elect the strategic geniuses whose wise decisions and firm but thoughtful leadership gave us this tranquil world order.

As we celebrate this new age of peace, understanding and joy, here are a few stories that might matter if we didn’t have such a wise and level-headed government in Washington that was bent on soothing and quieting what might otherwise be an aroused and worried public opinion.

The office of the Director of National Intelligence is both confirming that the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was deliberately planned in advance and excusing the White House for getting the story wrong. Officials are trying to determine if a mysterious, little known organization called “Al-Qaeda” had something to do with the attack. This doesn’t seem likely, as Al-Qaeda was reported dead or at least in what former Vice President Cheney would have called its “death throes” in Pakistan last spring, but you never know.

In a completely unrelated development in Somalia, African Union troops have driven an armed group of mysterious criminals from the city of Kismayo. The criminals have also been linked to Al-Qaeda, but it is obvious to a child that their organization and motives are entirely due to local grievances and their claims to represent a wing of some sort of global movement are delusional and not worth thinking about.  Widespread reports that Al Shabab, as these fighters call themselves, merged with the little-known Al-Qaeda last February are understood by all seasoned observers of international politics to be meaningless and not worth discussing. In any case, Al-Shabab is reported to be retreating, so who cares?

Meanwhile from Nigeria comes word that Boko Haram, the fanatical terror group (sorry, organized criminal conspiracy) that is trying to launch a widespread religious (sorry, socio-economic) war (sorry again, state of continuing and kinetic tension) in Nigeria by bombing churches during worship services, murdering Christians and attacking moderate Muslims, has penetrated the Nigerian government. As the BBC reports, an immigration official has confessed to participation in the movement and has provided information that led to a number of other arrests. Reports that this chimerical Al-Qaeda group sent operatives to work with Boko Haram and enabled it to operate at a higher level of effectiveness should be ignored by all serious people.

The President of Yemen, meanwhile, is thanking the United States for its support for his efforts in his country’s ongoing anti-crime effort against randomly motivated groups of violent criminals in developments that have nothing in common with superficially similar movements anywhere in the world. In what was obviously a slip of the tongue he linked the criminals with “Al-Qaeda” and implied that some sort of international network was engaged in the violence in his country but such crazy talk by a man under a great deal of stress is best ignored. Only rampant paranoia with perhaps a touch of Islamophobia could link events in Yemen to anything warlike or global.

In another completely unrelated and random development, the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia are advising their citizens to avoid travel to certain parts of the Philippines. Apparently there are “clashes” between the armed forces and certain mysterious criminal elements whose motives cannot be discerned but which appear to be entirely related to local grievances of some sort. Land tenure issues? Revenue sharing, perhaps?

In yet another inexplicable event that does not, repeat not point to anything so unthinkable as some sort of global war on terror, the New York Times reported this week that a Turk and an Iraqi were killed by a United States drone strike in Waziristan, one of many unsettled regions in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Again, the Turk and the Iraqi were said to be linked to this mysterious Al-Qaeda group, obviously a criminal conspiracy of some sort like the Mafia or the Libor rate-setting committee and one which can be countered by alert police actions here and there.

And of course there is northern Mali, where Al-Qaeda linked criminals have mysteriously seized power and begun to turn the area into an armed training and supply came for their confederates across the region. Both the EU and the African Union are mulling ways to drive them from power, and the United States is also considering ways of defeating them. The EU has almost 30 member states and the AU has 50; that international organizations with a membership of 80 countries are contemplating coordinated military action against something isn’t anything for anybody to worry about. Bin Laden is dead, what few remnant grouplets survive are on the run, and the unlamented “global war on terror” is as dead as the Bush administration.

There are other interesting dispatches from this non-global, non-war. “Hundreds” of Al-Qaeda operatives have escaped from a prison in Iraq. A somewhat doubtful report from the crack Onion-citing Iranian news agency FARS says that Al-Qaeda is recruiting criminals (which it foolishly calls “terrorists”) for activities in Syria. For those who don’t find FARS a reliable source, CNN also carries a story on the rising profile of Al-Qaeda in the war against Assad.

An Associated Press story filed in Peshawar noted that Al-Qaeda continues to globalize, with non-Arabs now significantly outnumbering Arabs in the organization’s ranks. Citing retired Pakistani general Mahmoud Shah as a source, the AP tells us that:

While there are no exact numbers, Shah said intelligence sources in the tribal regions put the number of Arab and African jihadists at about 1,500, compared with 3,500 to 4,000 ranging from Chinese Uighurs and Uzbeks to recruits from Turkey, the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan as well as native and immigrant Germans.

We may be tired of the war on terror, but the terrorists aren’t tired of waging war on us. Far from it. They are just warming up.

No doubt all the respectable and enlightened people who are working so hard in the government and the media to prevent public opinion from connecting these dots and drawing the conclusion that the war on terror is still real, still global and still going on have good reasons for doing so. They fear that talking too much about the threat would hand propaganda victories to those we would call our enemies if we were calling spades spades. They also fear that whether they speak of a global war on terror, a global war on radical Islamist terror, or even a global war against fanatical religious terror groups without specifying the religion they will polarize the world and make the whatever-it-is that much worse. Islamophobia would sweep the west, and westophobia (misdusism? hatred of the west) would sweep the Muslim world, and the clash of civilizations that our enemies want and that we hope to avoid would become that much more likely.

These are not bad motives, and even the slightly less noble motive of hoping to gain some partisan advantage by claiming to have dealt more decisively with the terror threat than is in fact the case is hardly an unprecedented violation of the norms of American political discourse in an election year.

But roads paved with good intentions don’t always take you where you want to go, and denial does not look like an effective or sustainable strategy in the current state of what is and remains a multi-theater war against a set of armed religious fanatics and bigoted zealots with a crazed world view and the capacity to make a lot of trouble in a lot of places at the same time.

When, after months and years of denial, events suddenly pop up (like a pre-planned 9/11 attack on an American diplomatic outpost) that look very much as if the war on terror was still happening, millions of Americans begin to ask whether their leaders are just stupid or if something else is going on. If you want to stoke McCarthyism, deny that domestic Communism is a problem after domestic spies have sold our nuclear secrets to Stalin. If you want to stoke Islamophobia, don’t level with the people about the nature of the problems we face.

The Obama administration has pursued a complex and not wholly misguided strategy in the war it claims not to be fighting. It has bombed the bejeezus out of people it doesn’t like, and a very serious and focused set of multinational counter terrorism operations are, thank goodness, constantly going on. These operations include vigorous domestic operations as well as international ones, and the Obama administration has pretty consistently worried more about cracking down on potential threats than on pleasing the ACLU. The White House has also sought, mostly unsuccessfully, to win over public opinion in the Islamic world by bombarding the region not only with drones but also with kind words about Islam and it has offered intermittent and inconsistent support for political change.  And, though it may not like to admit this to itself, it is exploiting the sectarian divide in the Islamic world to keep the Sunni and Shiite crazies focused on killing each other rather than being free to devote all their energy to the more difficult task of killing us. Meanwhile, it is hoping that moderate Islamism as we see it in places like Turkey and Egypt can tame Islam into a political force with which we can coexist.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats will admit this in the heat of an election campaign, but there aren’t many substantive differences between this general approach and the policy of the Bush administration in its second term. The biggest difference, and perhaps the only remaining substantial one, is the effort to downplay the existence of a violent global struggle against the terrorists and their perverted ideas. It may be that one reason the administration clings so hard to this approach is the need of its officials even at the most senior levels to avoid recognizing the degree to which they are following in the despicable footsteps of the man they so deeply loathe—and to do what they can to disguise that reality from their supporters. Many Democrats deeply want their party to be anti-war; we have an ‘ain’t-no-war’ President instead of an anti-war one and with that the left of the Democratic Party must make do.

But sometimes truth needs to be told. We are killing people in acts of war across Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa and expect to kill quite a few more. We are fighting a battle first to contain and then to defeat a vicious ideology of murder and hate that masks itself as religious zeal. We are fighting this war both at home and abroad, and there is not an inhabited continent anywhere on Planet Earth where this threat is not a serious concern.   All Muslims are not our enemies — far from it, and many of our most important allies and associates are decent, pious, enlightened Muslims who loathe the hate-spewing murderers as much as anybody else — but all of our enemies claim to be fighting in the name of Islam.

Basing war policy on the denial of facts is never smart, and the blow back can be severe. It’s quite possible that President Obama will be more frank about this conflict in his second term; whatever happens in November the threat will be too real and our efforts to deal with it will be too far-reaching for the United States government to pretend that we don’t face a global security challenge as serious as a war.

Posted on 09/30/2012 12:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
At The U.N., Obama Failed To Mention Buddhists

At  the U.N. Barack Obama mentioned, in the best six words of his speech, the Muslim attacks [well, he called it, obliquely,  and misleadingly too, "the pitting of Muslims against...."] on "Christian, Hindu, and Jew." He didn't have to provide an exhaustive list of all the peoples toward whom Muslims feel, because they are inculcated with, hostility and sometimes murderous hatred: that list includes everyone who is not a Muslim, for in Islam "Unbelief is One."

But he might have included Buddhists, for they have suffered -- Buddhism was almost extinguished in its birthplace, India -- under Muslim rule. Why didn't he? Would inclusion of Buddhists make clear that Islam wages war, urges war, on all non-Muslims? Would it come too close to the inconvenient truth about Islam, and about those who take Islam to heart?

Just today, n the latest news from the horrible world of Islam, the world learns of the destruction of Buddhist temples in Cox's Bazar -- a place that was once, like much of India, filled with Buddhist (and Hindu, and Jain) temples, not one of which was ever destroyed by people of other faiths (Hindus, Buddhists, Jain, Christians, Jews) with one exception: the Muslims who destroyed Buddhist and Hindu temples and temple complexes, and stupas and statues, and everything else that they destroyed, for the fun and dogma of it, and also to re-use the stone for the mosques they put up.

The destruction of Buddhist temples and artifacts over the centuries has received insufficient attention in the West. The Englishman David McCutchion studied -- was the Western world's foremost expert on -- the temples of Bengal. He was in Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, intermittently, during the war made by the army of West Pakistan, aided by local fanatical Muslims, the razakars, who agreed with the West Pakistanis that "Islam" itself would be damaged if Bangladesh were to become independent of Pakistan, summed his view up: What should I think of a culture that burns down the British Council library in Lahore because an English publisher printed a picture of Mahomet? Fanaticism plus Machiavellianism plus brutality equals Islamic Pakistan.    The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban a few years ago, made possible, some claim, by outside help, from Pakistanis and Saudis, took place when it did because now the local Muslims had the wherewithal -- the right explosives -- to do it. For if they had had the means before, a year or a century or half-a-millennium before, they would certainly have blown up those Buddhas. 

The  teeny-tiny catalogue of the museum in Kabul -- I have one dating from 1964 -- is a pathetic thing, It contains all that was preserved of the Greco-Bactrian civilization of that part of Central Asia. And even much of what is listed in that tiny catalogue --a small paperback of  less than 100 pages, no doubt disappeared when the Taliban, that is those people who in Afghanistan took Islam most to heart, and allowed its grim teachings to be unmediated and unnuaced by life, attacked and ransacked the museum.

There is one place in the subcontinent where Buddhists continue to live. It is the Chittagong Hills area of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan). The people there are subject to constant harassment and murder -- just the way the Buddhists of Burma have been by the Muslims who, over time, have infiltrated into Burma from Bangladesh.

You can find out more about the fate of the Buddhists in the Chittagong Hills region of eastern Bangladesh, and the Jumma people, here.

Posted on 09/30/2012 10:06 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 September 2012
Lee Jay Walker On Muslim Persecution Of Buddhists
It's a posting from August 6, 2010

Bangladesh and Pakistan: where minorities fear to walk

Bangladesh and Pakistan: where minorities fear to walk

Lee Jay Walker – The Modern Tokyo Times

Radical Islamist and hatred
Radical Islamists and the persecution of minorities

In modern day Bangladesh and Pakistan you have constant persecution of non-Muslim minorities and also minority Muslim communities are being killed in the name of radical Sunni Islam in Pakistan.  Therefore, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Shia Muslims, Sikhs, and others, face daily persecution and hatred in Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively.

On August 11th this year it will be “Minority Day” in Pakistan, however, Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti of the Pakistan Christian Congress announced that they will be observing ‘Black Day” because of the constant persecution of minorities in Pakistan.

Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti states “How we can celebrate Minority Day in Pakistan when our innocent brothers are being killed by Islamic militants and our women are being gang raped and enforcedly converted to Islam.”

It is clear that the partition of India led to chaos and hundreds of thousands of people were murdered.  After this chaos divisions would emerge between East Pakistan and West Pakistan and further bloodshed would occur, with the outcome being the sovereign nations of Bangladesh and Pakistan.  However, while India remains to be multi-religious, the opposite is happening in Bangladesh and Pakistan because religious minorities are facing the brute reality of radical Sunni Islam.

To make matters worse both Bangladesh and Pakistan would witness the gradual Islamization of their societies, notably Pakistan, and massive corruption and persecution of women would continue.  The Islamization of both nations was especially traumatic for Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan and for Hindus and Buddhists in Bangladesh. Not surprisingly, this Islamic persecution of minorities in both nations re-awakened anti-Islamic feelings in India.

Christians in Pakistan also began to feel the brunt of radical Sunni Islam and the same applies to Ahmadiyya Muslims who suffer greatly.  At the same time you also have growing divisions within Sunni Islam and the usual Sunni-Shia divide led to many massacres and terrorist attacks.

However, unlike the destruction of Buddhism and Hinduism in Afghanistan which happened centuries earlier because of Islamic conquests, forced conversions to Islam, systematic persecution, and controlling all leverages of power; the Islamization of Bangladesh and Pakistan took place in the twentieth century and continues today.

Yet why are Buddhism and Hinduism being allowed to be destroyed in both nations?  After all, Buddhists in Bangladesh were a small minority and they could never threaten Islam; the same applies to Hindus in Pakistan.  Despite this, the international community remains very silent.

Therefore, why did other nations remain quiet when massive religious persecution was taking place?  After all, nations like France, the United Kingdom and America were espousing ‘democracy’ and liberals were glorifying multi-faith societies and stating that Islam was a religion of peace.  At the same time major institutions like the Commonwealth, which espoused global human rights, remained quiet despite religious persecution and pogroms in Bangladesh and Pakistan.

In Pakistan the destruction of Hinduism and persecution of Hindus took many forms.  The first path was the massacre of Hindus during partition and forcing Hindus to leave via coercion.  However, over the last 50 years the destruction of Hinduism in modern day Pakistan was based on past Islamic global conquests and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed who sanctioned the persecution of non-Muslims.  For the Prophet Mohammed had told his followers to ‘Fight those who believe not in God nor the last day . . . Nor acknowledge the religion of truth (Islam) . . .’ Therefore, the followers of Hinduism were to be subdued in accordance with the teachings of Islamic Sharia Law, the Koran and the Hadiths.

Given this, Hindus were now a subdued minority, like Christians in Pakistan, and they were unequal in law and status in accordance with the teachings of Islam.  At the same time Hindu temples were often converted into Muslim mosques or destroyed, and ancient Hindu architecture was left to collapse and fade away.  The choice for many Hindus was either to convert to Islam in order to escape persecution, flee to India or to accept that they were second-class citizens in Pakistan.  Not surprisingly, the Hindu population in Pakistan continued to decline and this civilization was being eradicated by Islam.

The situation for Buddhists in Bangladesh was different, for Buddhism had survived countless Islamic conquests in one region because of terrain and other factors; therefore, Buddhists and other faiths had survived in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  However, the increasing population of Bangladesh led to many problems and the government of Bangladesh hoped ‘to kill two birds with one stone.’  This applies to moving millions of Muslim people to remote parts of Bangladesh, notably the Chittagong Hill Tracts, while at the same time this new Muslim migration would crush the mainly Buddhist tribal opposition in this region.

Therefore, millions of Muslim migrants were moved into the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the mainly Buddhist tribals (some are Christian, Hindu or follow traditional beliefs) became embroiled in a civil war.  Islamic radicals also moved into this region and many Buddhist priests were killed, including some being beheaded.  At the same time hundreds of Buddhist temples were destroyed and the Bangladesh army took part in many massacres, and some Buddhist women were gang-raped by both Islamic zealots and the Bangladesh army.

In time the mainly Buddhist tribals were overwhelmed by the armed forces of Bangladesh and Muslim migration because this was a clear dual policy based on Islamization and control.  Their situation, however, went unnoticed in the West and Islamic nations obviously remained silent.  To make matters worse, the mainly Buddhist tribes had no nation supporting them and no major world leader to draw attention to their plight.  Given this, the government of Bangladesh continues with this policy and Buddhists and other minorities face the ongoing Islamization of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Therefore, the destruction of thousands of years of Hindu/Buddhist civilization in these nations is being destroyed and the world remains largely silent.  It is clear that mainly Buddhist nations like Japan (and Shinto), Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and others, should form an organization to help their co-religionists; with Japan being the main financial power to raise awareness of Buddhist persecution.  However, sadly this is not happening and India clearly did not do enough in order to protect or raise the issue of Hindu persecution in both Bangladesh and Pakistan.

If global silence continues then Buddhism will one day be eradicated in Bangladesh.  However, the global community did condemn the Taliban in Afghanistan for destroying Buddhist statues and art, yet the same global community remains quiet when Buddhist tribes are being systematically persecuted.  Does this mean that Buddhist art in Afghanistan is more important than the persecution of Buddhist communities and the gang rape of Buddhist women in Bangladesh? 

Surely the Hindus of Pakistan and Buddhists in the Chittagong Hill Tracts deserve better?  If the international community remains silent about this crime, then soon these lands will be Islamized and religiously ‘cleansed.’ 

The ongoing silence is an international disgrace and because of this Islamists are now killing Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians in Pakistan.  After all, the world remained silent when Hindus and Sikhs faced massive persecution in Pakistan and the same applies to the constant destruction of Buddhist tribal villages in Bangladesh.  Therefore, the persecution of all minorities is getting worse in modern day Pakistan.

The most vulnerable and ‘voiceless’ in Bangladesh and Pakistan have been abandoned by the international community.  Why?

 Lee Jay Walker

Posted on 09/30/2012 11:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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