Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Egypt: Aftermath of a Revolution

Sam Tadros discusses the outcome in Egypt in the Tablet, best summed up as "Islamists’ electoral success vindicates the pessimists".

I met Mr. Tadros in 2007, while demonstrating against Mubarak in D.C. If I recall correctly, he minimized the import of the Muslim Brotherhood then, and Salafis weren’t even in our minds; we were both under the spell of Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy.

Yet the democracy of a fanatic mob is no guarantee of liberty; you need an open political culture that protects and honors minorities and minority opinions, and Egyptians don’t appear ready for that. The lesson has been a bitter one for those of us who had higher hopes for Egypt, though admittedly there was no way to know for certain the principles Egyptians’ would choose to express until this election. It seems unlikely that liberty will be preserved in a state dominated by the MB and Salafis. It is very unlikely that a new constitution can be both crafted by elected Islamists and ensure the ability of the people to change their minds by kicking the Islamists out if they tire of them. even if this happens, I doubt its terms will be honored; rather, mob rule in the streets will enforce the Islamist rule that has been the dream of the MB since before WWII.

Egypt is in danger of becoming yet another country where Muslims believe if they follow their rituals and traditions exactly then their individual choices will automatically be ethically and unquestionably correct – a sure path to moral and civic corruption. The people willingly yoke the chain that weighs them down. Same old, same old.

Mr. Tadros realizes now what I’ve held for some years now: “[Anti-Semitism] is the glue binding the otherwise incoherent ideological blend, the common denominator among disparate parties.” Too many Egyptians blinded themselves here: if you want to pursue a just and liberal Egypt you have to attack anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist attitudes. The reason is that Israel’s existence and conduct is just and a worthy example to the world, and a society wearing blinders to avoid this also cannot see the path to the just and proper conduct they desire in their hearts for their own society. (That was also the root of the Pilgrims’ success at self-government in America and why Oliver Cromwell allowed the Jews to return to England.)

Had the liberals chosen to attack anti-Semitism as well as or instead of Mubarak their attitudes could have permeated society and the outcome of an election may have been very different, though Mubarak would not have fallen so soon.

Too late now. The best that the libs can hope for is that when the MB and Salafists fail the people – and they will – some sort of democratic process will allow the people to kick them out in favor of liberals who will then face the challenge of delivering services to a starved and desperate people. (H/T: Spengler)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Response to "No kosher way to annihilate"


"Thou shall not kill" is NOT "Jews' "most sacred covenant". The commandment is "Thou shall not murder". We Jews are not forbidden the right to kill in self-defense nor the right to slaughter animals for food.

"Thou shall not murder" is a commandment not to commit slaughter your fellow man out of hatred for him. This the Israelis have certainly followed admirably compared to other nations. Not only is the murder and crime rate in Israel's orthodox communities close to zero, Israel's example - too often distorted into the opposite by the media - of acting against aggression yet NOT wontonly engaging in the mass slaughter of peoples whose leaders have vowed eternal enmity towards them has been emulated by other nations, specifically the United States and, lately, the Pakistani Army itself. Isn't that something the citizens of Swat and Wazirstan have to be thankful for?

Pakistanis suffer from many problems. Among them is this: having driven out every Jewish voice from the country, some Pakistanis have been tempted to invent their own interpretations of Jewish Law as a means of ridiculing and demeaning Jews or Israelis. It appears Jawed Naqvi is one of these.

Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that he is acting out of ignorance of Jews, given the close association he cites with them in India and elsewhere (though he may have been misled by dishonest intellectuals like Chomsky); rather, isn't it most likely he is trying to mislead Pakistanis, including himself? After all, I'm not the only one to note that Pakistani intellectuals deal with large amounts of cognitive dissonance every day. Yet that is no excuse for leading his countrymen down the road of aggressive war and damnation, is it?

Respectfully yours,

- Solomon2

[emailed to Dawn and Mr. Naqvi]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Responding to the USS Liberty calumny

"During the 1967 War with Egypt and Syria, the Israeli Air Force knowingly bombed the USS Liberty — an American surveillance ship — and blamed it on the Egyptians." link

The Liberty, operating just outside Egyptian waters, was indeed attacked by Israeli warplanes. It was a "fog of war" mistake:

The Liberty was not far away when an ammo dump on shore suddenly exploded - thought to be by a bombardment from ship. Although identified earlier as an American warship, the Israelis did not maintain contact - they were looking for Egyptian warships and subs - and the Israelis thought, talking to the U.S. naval attache, that the Liberty was gone from the area; however, these orders had been mis-routed. The Liberty remained offshore but after the explosion proceeded (by unhappy coincidence, having reached the eastern end of its patrol area) towards Egyptian waters at high speed, and was then mis-identified as an enemy vessel fleeing the scene of an attack.

These facts are available from both U.S. and Israeli official sources and U.S. documentation. [Ref: Michael Oren, Six Days of War] I hope all readers note that very few, if any, Pakistani, Muslim, or Arab writers exerted themselves in the slightest fashion to unearth the true story, as best as it is known.

Over and over even "liberal"-minded Pakistanis miss the truth about Israel and its actions, preferring to wallow in demonisation instead. How many realize that the mind-set necessary to do this is EXACTLY the mind-set that invents reasons to bomb mosques and rape and kill innocents in their own country? The same mind-set that gives the O.K. to corruption rather than good government? I guess such thoughts, too horrible to evaluate, simply vanish on contact - and so Pakistan's terrible decay continues and its citizens continue to sink into a vast moral morass.

The Arab writer, Abdulateef al-Muhim, formerly a Saudi naval commodore, has often wondered how history would have been different had the Arabs recognized Israel in 1948 instead of vowing to eliminate the country and exterminate its Jewish population.link So do I: perhaps there might never have been a Saudi-supported Pakistani curriculum promoting the distortion of fact and fraud on an ummah-wide level. Muslims would have realized that by supporting extermination-minded Muslims against Jews that they are supporting criminality, not justice. Can Pakistanis gather the strength to change their own nature?


The Express Tribune refused to publish the comment.
UPDATE 11/21/11: My comment was published, after all.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: Pakistan: A Hard Country

Ever since late 2008 I've spent most of my "Solomon2" time over at the Pakistani Defence Forum. I've also done a lot of reading on Pakistan. However, one exchange revealed I didn't that there are no jury trials in Pakistan.

Jury trials are the very intersection of society and the institutionalized process of justice. Since I didn't know there were no jury trials, I concluded that I was missing something very basic: while I had studied Pakistan's military and the decision-making process of its policymakers and such knowledge might be of some utility, my knowledge of Pakistani society was not.

Back to the books, then! The most-recent comprehensive view of Pakistan is the 500-page Pakistan: a Hard Country by Anatoly Lieven - an experienced British author who is also a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, an outfit that has invited me to several mid-east and Pakistan-related events, for reasons unknown.

Both Lieven and Zbigniew Brzezinski are scions of European aristocrats displaced by the Bolsheviks; while the experience drove Brzezinski to help support an insurgency in Afghanistan in the 1970s, Lieven's heritage seems to have compelled him to investigate the current result of such impetuosity. The author has toured Pakistan extensively twice, twenty years apart. This has helped him distinguish long-term attitudes from spur-of-the-moment popular trends, and taught him to be cautious at evaluating Pakistani public opinion.

On the minus side, Lieven makes several unsupported cuts against Israel - possibly his admission ticket to a Pakistan where, as one interlocutor once told me, "Pakistanis say they can't be openly pro-Israel because their throats could be slit twenty minutes later." Or maybe his anti-Israel attitude is honestly felt, expressing the current bias of Britain's intellectual class.

Succos plus Shabbat being a three-day holiday my reading plans were set. In between family time, prayer time, community time, and by stealing some hours from sleep I accomplished my purpose, for the book is a real eye-opener.

First, nothing else I've read so far comes close to depicting Pakistani society in breadth with illustrative episodes of detail.

Second, it strongly suggests that my conception of Pakistan was fundamentally wrong. I had thought that of Pakistan as a strong state dominated by a military lording it over society. Instead, Lieven depicts a weak state dominated by multiple strong societies within. Many a time the military finds it more effective to solve problems - even deadly ones - by negotiation, realizing that killing off kin-leaders can be counterproductive to building a successful Pakistan.

So Pakistan isn't really a mini-Roman Empire on the verge of coming apart. It's been in pieces since the beginning. Within the weak state the military is dominant but it only serves as a kind of glue holding fissiparous kin-groupings and ethnicities together. Not an empire decaying into feudalism but a feudal collective existing under the state - not particularly happily, as many are convinced life was better under previous princely rulers than under today's irresponsible bureaucrats and ministers.

(This again suggests to me that seeking a presidential- or parliamentary-type system in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been a mistake; constitutional monarchies with free cities would have been better. Monarchs at least own responsibility for their actions. Elected officials can usually obfuscate matters to hide their own involvement, something easy to do when the populace is mostly illiterate and there are no good checks and balances.)

Third, Pakistanis are corrupt, and this corruption is both personal and collective. Any Pakistani who has any power at all, even a tiny amount, uses it to improperly manipulate the state to his or his kin-group's advantage. If an individual commits a crime the courts often fail to convict because he can instantly enlist ten family members (even distant cousins) to provide alibis for him. Swearing on the Koran is not allowed: Since it is assumed that all witnesses lie doing so would discredit Islam, which is forbidden. With corruption the rule, politics and crime (closely related in Pakistan) are reduced to power-sharing negotiations between different parties: the "negotiated state" as Lieven puts it. The most effective law enforcement measures are "encounter killings" - extrajudicial executions of murderous miscreants, usually at night.

Fourth, about juries: Jury trials were forbidden in British India as incompatible with the colonial system and Pakistan and India both kept this after independence. At PDF both Indians and Pakistanis approved this: "We had it many decades ago but it was done away with as being unsuitable to our socio-economic environment" "We are different doesn’t mean we are evil and lesser beings"

(While Colonial America did have jury trials the Americans had greater experience with self-government and a higher literacy rate. One should also remember that the Vice-Admiralty courts of the late Colonial period, set up to enforce trade laws, had no juries - and were very much hated by Americans.)

Fifth, confirmation that, as I had gathered from my readings and on-line conversations, Pakistanis are greatly afflicted by self-deception usually expressed in but not limited to conspiracy theories. The problem is as wide-spread as I imagined, permeating all classes, and in the intellectual class going right up to the level of university president. The amazing and upsetting part is that such unsupported (and unsupportable) pronouncements are taken as more authoritative than pronouncements backed up by serious research. The author writes that the conspiracy-theory mentality is bred by the Army itself.

Sixth, the dacoits. This was a surprise. I had no idea that the Pakistani elite still employed professional robber-killers on retainer. I had thought this a thing of the past.

Seventh, the media. As I had strongly suspected from the moderation of my comments on Pakistani newspaper sites, the media can be very strongly influenced by the military. "The change in media coverage was crucial to the change in Pakistani public opinion" regarding operations in Swat. Such success naturally makes me wonder how much more could be done, should the military put its will into it.

Eighth, it isn't all about Islam. There is also the code of the Pathan, pashtunwali, and for women in particular that is much worse. Reading this, I realized that when President Bush criticized the Taliban for its treatment of women a few years back he was not criticizing sharia law, as I thought at the time, but pashtunwali. If I made this mistake then I suppose other Americans have done the same.

Additional conclusions thus far:

1) Pakistani police need to be better-paid, need better training and access to forensic equipment, and a greater division between local and national outfits; currently they are not tools of security as much as traffic cops or political tools to employ against rivals.

2) I have a somewhat more sympathetic attitude towards the Pakistani military than I did before, but only slightly. The P.A.'s moral judgments lead to much suffering among Pakistan's neighbors. Its nuclear weapons whet militant appetites and disorder. And its domestic meddling has kept society together but also kept many problems from being solved and allowed others to fester. The word that comes to my mind is embrittlement.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Daily Times: Abnormality syndrome in Pakistan — I

As a teenager, when I was supposed to be enjoying life, making friends, watching movies, playing games, socialising and talking about our little dreams, I was thinking of pleasing God and hating His perceived enemies

“The only abnormality is the incapacity to love” — Anais Nin.

According to Wikipedia, “Abnormality, in the vivid sense of something deviating from the normal or differing from the typical (such as an aberration), is a subjectively defined behavioural characteristic, assigned to those with rare or dysfunctional conditions.”

Some might call me judgmental, others label me as cynical and delusional while some associate me with a class that thinks nothing can go right in Pakistan but still fails to understand what actually is wrong with this country. To understand this abnormality, I have reflected on my own life here — a journey where I was growing up in a religiously conservative and culturally oppressive society.

I recall how Hindus and Jews were my sworn enemies, even though I had not seen any. Christians were there to work as sweepers and cleaners and we were told not to shake hands with them or take any food from them, thus making me believe, as a child, that all Christians were sweepers and dirty. I did not know of Ahmedis and Barelvis but I was told that they were not good people either. Shias were not Muslims; once a student asked our Islamic studies teacher why a section of the Islamic studies book was titled ‘for Shia students only’ for which he was beaten mercilessly because he did not know the difference between a ‘Musalmaan’ (Muslim) and ‘kaafir’ (non-believer) as taught by that teacher in my school.

All that I saw and experienced was religion and hatred. It felt like we were bowels that were constantly being filled with hatred. I was growing up with a negative and twisted personality like millions of others are today. I did not know how to love but I surely knew how to hate: to hate anyone who is not Muslim. As a teenager, when I was supposed to be enjoying life, making friends, watching movies, playing games, socialising and talking about our little dreams, I was thinking of pleasing God and hating His perceived enemies.

It took me years to come out of that abnormality and madness, and it is not easy to explain how it happened. It was not one event or a moment that shaped my life but years of reading and communicating with people who came from societies where such abnormality does not occur on such a wide scale. I felt this very strongly during an official trip to Germany when I visited a concentration camp, which was reminiscent of the mass level Nazi anti-Semitic indoctrination that resulted in the mass extermination of Jews; this mass level indoctrination was nothing when compared to the poison that has been indoctrinated into the minds of successive generations for the past decades in Pakistan, specifically and generally against anyone not following the Wahabi brand of Islam.

I am happy that I did not become the person that bigoted culture wanted me to become but it pains me to see young boys and girls when they talk of religion, politics, hatred, revenge and hatch conspiracy theories. Unlike normal people, they do not talk of culture, movies, dress, adventures, savings, dance, music and beauty. In fact, Islamabad is probably the only capital in the world without a cinema.

People who are not well aware of the dynamics of Pakistani society and the indoctrination carried out here based on the ideology of Pakistan think that education is the solution to our problems. When I was working for the British High Commission in Islamabad, a discussion was held to come up with ideas on how to democratise Pakistan. As usual, the suggestions that came up ranged from imparting education to strengthening parliament and civil society, but what was really lacking was an understanding of the nature of the institutions on which democracy is based. They were not willing to accept that our social fabric has collapsed, and the head of the family plays the part of a dictator. Truth and honesty have become victims and lies and cheating have become the norms of the day.

When it comes to education, it is like imparting hatred and prejudice. Education here at a national level is doing more harm than good as some contents of the national syllabus and teaching practices at state schools are discriminatory and religiously judgmental towards minorities belonging to other sects. Recently, a friend told me that Christian students in schools were being compelled to memorise kalmas, and yet everyone remains indifferent to such trends at schools.

The closed culture and excessive religiosity are pushing people towards extremism and, ultimately, terrorism. Growing up in the society where I was raised, you do not need to go to a madrassa to get the indoctrination needed to later become a terrorist — that job is done by the very institutions structured to safeguard the people. Children learn this from families, schools, mosques, the streets, TV channels and Urdu newspapers. They turn you into a walking time bomb full of hatred and revenge for everything you are brainwashed to hate, something a saner and conscientious mind cannot relate to.

(To be continued)

The writer can be reached at kaharzalmay@yahoo.com

Monday, May 09, 2011

Chomsky's Game

Chomsky inked a column describing his reaction to the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. It's a good example of his sophism.

Chomsky is by training a linguist. When I objected to a particularly egregious and damaging usage of words - the same phrase meant the opposite thing in two cultures, but the same op-ed was intended for both - he replied that it was "all part of The Game." "The Game" - stretching words to their limits so their individual use may be technically correct but their application in context adds up to a falsehood - is what he does for kicks.

He snows people because not everyone grasps (as Chomsky does) that different words can describe the same thing but only apply in particular contexts. By using the word inappropriately he compels the unwary reader to change his or her characterization of an act. For example, he refers to the 1944 Normandy landings as "the U.S. invasion of France". This is technically true, but contextually and emotionally false: France had already been invaded by the Nazis and was under Nazi occupation; furthermore, the French did not consider it a hostile invasion ("hostile" is usually implied when the word "invasion" is employed, but that's a cultural not linguistic truth, get it?) but instead as liberation.

But if you listen to Chomsky and you didn't truly understand events or context you might be convinced that the U.S. was an aggressor in WWII and the Nazis (and French) mere victims. He's recognized as a dishonest academic; that's why he couldn't get a lecture hall when he visited my campus and had to lecture in the coffee shop instead.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Reactions to the Killing of Osama Bin Laden

“# Saudi Jawa Said: May:02:2011 - 14:13 What an interesting story. Not only in the developing details, but on its impact on the world. Americans are (understandably) celebrating, but the effect on Saudis (and Muslims in general) is curious indeed. Most Saudi and Muslims I’ve talked to seemed kind of shell shocked at the moment. While most of them did not agree with his acts, OBL had become a symbol of the Anti-American Muslim. Its an often used tactic when debating how powerful the US is by saying: “They can’t even find OBL!”. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Che Guivara style postmortem worship cults to arise. Expect to see conspiracy theories breed like rabbits.

# Solomon2 Said: May:02:2011 - 14:31 “Most Saudi and Muslims I’ve talked to seemed kind of shell shocked at the moment. While most of them did not agree with his acts, OBL had become a symbol of the Anti-American Muslim. Its an often used tactic when debating how powerful the US is -” So for “most Saudis and Muslims” OBL represented a never-dying ambition for domination over all others? A goal they feel is suppressed only by the power of non-Muslim nations? And thus these Muslims feel shocked and depressed by the demise of this symbol of their hope, whose tactics they disagreed with but whose publicly-declared goals they shared?

Saudi Jawa Said: May:02:2011 - 15:32 ”
“In a word; yes. A lot of Muslims still harbor the fantasy of the “Mulsim Umma” coming back as a super power. To most, the main obstacle in that road is the “Great Devil” AKA the USA. So a lot of them cling to any Anti-US symbol. I mean look at the level of hero worship Saddam got after he was executed. All his evil past deeds were forgotten, and he was elevated to the level of a celestial hero who got his face imprinted on the moon. The moon for chrissakes! A lot of them are hiding their shock under the guise of “speak no ill of the dead”, but it’s not particularly hard to spot.”

Solomon2 Said: May:02:2011 - 19:27 “A lot of Muslims still harbor the fantasy of the “Mulsim Umma” coming back as a super power. To most, the main obstacle in that road is the “Great Devil” AKA the USA. So a lot of them cling to any Anti-US symbol. I mean look at the level of hero worship Saddam got after he was executed. All his evil past deeds were forgotten, and he was elevated to the level of a celestial hero who got his face imprinted on the moon. ” Jawa, do you agree with the words of one commentator: “Year after year, since 9/11, Osama Bin Laden was at the top of the list of most admired figures in the Islamic world, along with Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat, especially in mostly Sunni nations, but even in Shi’ite ones. That’s because he “did it” to America…sure sounds like Bin Laden is an Islamic leader to me. To deny that is simply more Obama Osama politically correct Islamo-pandering. Muslims loved Bin Laden. In a world dominated by conspiracy theories, they wanted it both ways, insisting that the Jews, the CIA, the Bush Administration and the Mossad did 9/11, not Bin Laden; and yet at the same time cheering on and admiring Bin Laden for murdering 3,000 Americans, because they knew he really did it…Osama Bin Laden was not only AN Islamic leader, he was THE Islamic leader.””

“Saudi Jawa Said: May:02:2011 - 23:27 @Solomon2 Hmmm. While I do agree in principal with the comment (where is it from BTW?), I’m not sure about the strength of the feeling he describes in Muslims. While it is true a lot of them admired OBL, I would say very few *loved* him. And I am not sure I would agree with the “THE Muslim leader”. He was definitely influential, and the lack of other strong Islamic figures around its easy to make that assumption. But I think that enough Muslims disagree with the lengths he went to that only a radical few would consider him in that light. An interesting thought exercise is to imagine what would happen if Bin Ladin had restricted his actions to purely non-Muslim targets.”

Solomon2 Said: May:03:2011 - 13:43 S2: “Muslims loved Bin Laden. In a world dominated by conspiracy theories, they wanted it both ways, insisting that the Jews, the CIA, the Bush Administration and the Mossad did 9/11, not Bin Laden; and yet at the same time cheering on and admiring Bin Laden for murdering 3,000” SJ: While I do agree in principal with the comment (where is it from BTW?), I’m not sure about the strength of the feeling he describes in Muslims. Source: lawyer and movie reviewer Debbie Schlussel.”

Read more about Usama Bin Laden Dead | Crossroads Arabia on:

The emperors’ clothes
...Some do try and clutch at straws. Maybe they didn’t know. Maybe they’re so daft they didn’t really take this whole business of
pursuing Al Qaeda seriously. Maybe they just didn’t think it was their problem.

But those voices, unconvinced by their own words, quickly trail off … They knew. They knew he was there....

...Why would they do it? What did they hope to gain? Pakistan has nothing in common with Al Qaeda. They serve no purpose to us; there is no confluence of interests that can be imagined.

Did we think we could produce him like a rabbit out of the hat when we needed to? Did we think if we turned him over, the American attention span would lapse and they’d move on, leaving us unable to suckle at the teats of the superpower?

Or, assured in our assumptions about the world around us, did we simply think we could get away with it?

It makes no sense. And yet, perhaps there was an inevitability to this. Did the 1965 war make any sense? It was hard to find any sense to it then, even less so today.

Did Kargil make any sense? Not then, not today.

Did hawking nuclear paraphernalia on the international market make any sense? Buying did perhaps, but selling? And now we
have the world’s most-wanted terrorist recovered from the bosom of the Pakistani security establishment.

So maybe it does make sense after all. The establishment has flirted with irrationality in the past. Now it appears to have
perfected it.

Where do we go from here as a country?

As long as national security and foreign policy remain in the hands of a cabal of generals — unaccountable and untouchable, a
lay unto themselves, and in thrall to their own irrational logic — what future can this country have? Surely, not much of a

Is self-correction an option? Good luck trying to find anyone in the homeland or beyond with even a modicum of knowledge
and understanding of the institution who believes it is capable of reforming itself.

What you will find are retired officers who will tell you what it feels like to be the masters of the universe, part of the inner core
of the establishment. How your feet leave the ground as the world gathers beneath you, bowing and scraping for crumbs
thrown their way. The view from the inside, the inner core, is of limitless power. The view from the outside is of a perch almost
designed to abjure humility and rationality.

What you will find are bureaucrats with decades of experience who ultimately concede that peace with India is unacceptable to the army on any terms. What you will find are diplomats who scoff at the possibility of Musharraf being able to seal a deal on Kashmir with India. Being Numero Uno at home requires having Enemy No 1 across the border.

Zia’s army, Musharraf’s army, Kakar and Karamat’s army — it may seem difficult to reconcile the differences. But while they were very different men, the strategic orientation of the army has more or less been the same. Some addressed the strategic imperatives from a religious angle, others from a more secular angle, but it has always been the army’s angle.

Can anything be done?...

...It is unlikely that Osama was being hosted by Pakistan as a matter of policy. Shielding Afghan Taliban leaders or India-focused militant leaders, however misconceived, is still understandable as part of a warped strategy to promote our defined strategic interests. Hosting Bin Laden or other Al Qaeda leaders isn’t.

Further, the assumption that our military and the ISI must have known of Osama’s presence in Abbottabad is the product of a narrative that projects our national security establishment as extremely capable, effective and omnipresent. This narrative has been conjured up by the national security establishment itself and mercilessly fed to the nation.

The masses buy into it for lack of an alternative narrative and a misplaced sense of nationalism. The political class and the media buy into it because they remain subjects of the ISI’s intrusive gaze, being followed, wiretapped, photographed, interrogated, cajoled and coerced. But hard facts do not back this narrative.

Washington Post: In Killing Osama, U.S. had the law on its Side

Dawn: U.S. Intervention: Was it Legal?

...Any statement from the UN welcoming this intervention would strengthen the argument for future interventions. The UN has thus cautiously avoided weakening the norm of ‘non-intervention’, which is one of the most respected principles in international law and politics...Intervention of this nature becomes legitimate only if it is authorised by the UN or a competent regional entity or if it is carried out pursuant to the consent of the state where it has taken place.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Hero

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Seated, from left, are: Brigadier General Marshall B. “Brad” Webb, Assistant Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command; Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Standing, from left, are: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Tony Binken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Audrey Tomason Director for Counterterrorism; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Bush didn't become a hero because the U.S. defeated Saddam, did he? Obama became a hero because he dared greatly and without perfect knowledge to successfully accomplish his goal. Look at this photo the White House released. The professionals are calm, Hillary is horrified, but Obama, as one commentator put it, looked like a guy watching a sporting event immediately after calling his bookie. Who knew?

Monday, March 28, 2011

"A civilisation of narcissists "

Published: March 26, 2011

Muslims seem to be blind to non-Muslim emotions; they are civilisationally inward-looking, but only go into denial when taxed with blame from the outside. If Muslims kill non-Muslims, they seem strangely unconcerned; when Muslims kill Muslims, as in Sudan, they turn their eyes away. It is only when non-Muslims kill Muslims, that they wake up and start complaining and pointing to their general state of victimhood. In his book Tehzeebi Nargisiyat (Sanjh Publications Lahore, 2009), Mobarak Haider goes into the minutiae of collective Muslim narcissism and examines all their overt and hidden postures, and comes up with a key to the understanding of the Muslim mind.

Haider says if you think Muslim isolationism and pride are of recent date, you are mistaken; Muslims have always been like that. It is their understanding of Islam that permits extreme posturing, while at the same time giving them the rhetoric of peace that no one takes seriously. If a Muslim terrorist kills another Muslim, the unthinking verdict is that the killer couldn’t be a Muslim or he wouldn’t have done it. Yet the bitter truth is that despite all their aggressive strutting, Muslims are busy killing Muslims all over the world. When they travel abroad and are treated with fear and loathing at international airports, they pocket their narcissism and suffer in silence. Strangely, pride doesn’t recommend refusal to migrate.

Author Haider bases this narcissism on the way Muslims absorb the following tenets of their faith: 1) Islam is a complete code of life and offers solutions to all problems; 2) Every edict of Islam is eternal and applicable to all times; 3) Islam is the only truth and any other competing truth must mould itself according to Islam or be ready to be suppressed; 4) Muslims are under obligation to make Islam the supreme religion of the world as other religions are jahiliyya; 5) Muslims are the foremost nation in the world and the only one that will be allowed into Heaven; 6) Action taken to subjugate other civilisations is jihad and not terrorism.

There are other ‘collective’ illusions contained in the edicts that follow: 7) Violence is interpreted as jihad, but then jihad is supposed to be the personal obligation of Muslims and not the state; 8) Any deviation from the prevailing dogma is non-belief or kufr; in more mitigating conditions, it is at least heresy; 9) The best knowledge is knowledge of religion and the ulema are the best among men, which means that no one can think about religion on his own; 10) No one can become a scholar of Islam except by accepting the dogma and obeying the edicts of tradition.

The Taliban are the climax of the journey of blind dismissal of the world outside the Muslim self. The idea is to rule the world not through acquisition of knowledge but through the use of the sword. The Taliban are the symbol of Pakistan’s recession into the self in the face of modern challenges. The biggest self-destructive vice that springs from this is uniformity of thinking or yaksaniyat (p.62).

Pakistan in its official and unofficial mythology claims that superpower Russia was defeated by the Taliban; and superpower America, too, will now be defeated by the Taliban, a glory in which Muslims of the world will indirectly participate. Corrupt politicians returning from the fleshpots of Europe, where they have just spent a part of the wealth gouged from Pakistan, complain that the West has lost its spiritual values and is now looking beseechingly at the Muslims as an agency of the revival of the western soul.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2011. link

My response to the excellent article by Mr. Khalid is for Muslims to DO something; don’t just curse the Dark, light a candle!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What if Arabs had recognized the State of Israel in 1948?

I have seen and read about the lives of the Palestinians in the US and other places. They are very successful in every field. And at the same time I saw the Arab countries at the bottom of the list in education and development. And I always ask the question: What if the Palestinians and the Arabs accepted the presence of Israel on May 14, 1948 and recognized its right to exist? Would the Arab world have been more stable, more democratic and more advanced?

Comment: The decision to oppose recognizing Israel was not made in 1948. As the aims of the Zionist project become known to them I think it was met by Arabs with revulsion at the idea that a place in the middle east would exist where a Jew could not be abused at the whim of an Arab. That is why in 1899 the Mufti of Jerusalem not only opposed the project, but specifically proposed terror as the preferred weapon,a plan which the Turks opposed [The Arabs and Zionism before World War I, by Neville J. Mandel, page 41. link] but which spread like fire among the Arabs after the Turks agreed to dissolve their empire and divide their captive nations into states, just as was happening in Europe with the dissolving Russian and Austrian empires. That is why the Arabs, displaying what psychologists call displacement, proclaim that Zionism is racism.

It isn't accepting Israel as a State or fact that is the problem. It is accepting - not merely tolerating - Jews as individuals with rights AND collectively as a people who deserve not to be abused any more. This is the attitude that has not changed in a hundred years.
...If Israel was recognized in 1948, then the Palestinians would have been able to free themselves from the hollow promises of some Arab dictators who kept telling them that the refugees would be back in their homes and all Arab lands will be liberated and Israel will be sent to the bottom of the sea. Some Arab leaders used the Palestinians for their own agenda to suppress their own people and to stay in power -
I believe this is the first time I have read such a confession from the pen of a high-ranking Arab officer. The author concludes:
Now, the Palestinians are on their own. Each Arab country is busy with its own crisis. From Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Algeria, Lebanon and the Gulf states. For now, the Arab countries have put the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on hold.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It was supposed to be a simple port visit, working with the Boy Scouts. Then they had to rescue Japan!

110218-N-9094S-186 PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 18, 2011) The U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) is underway in the Pacific Ocean. Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy's only forward deployed amphibious force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian A. Stone/Released)

USS Blue Ridge Arrives in Singapore
Story Number: NNS110311-08 Release Date: 3/11/2011 12:12:00 PM

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) arrived in Singapore, March 11, for the ship's first port visit to the city since October 2009.

Blue Ridge and embarked 7th fleet Sailors will continue strengthening ties in the international city through community service events and cultural exchanges during the ship's port visit.

Sailors and embarked Marines of Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Pacific will visit and volunteer at the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Boys' Town and the Street 11 Mission. Boy Scouts, military members and local residents are also scheduled to tour the ship for a glimpse of daily operations aboard a U.S. Navy vessel.
110302-N-9094S-146 SEPANGAR, Malaysia (March 2, 2011) Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Mandela Gbieor, assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), plays with a child during a community service event at the Bukit Harapan Theraputic Community. The center is a home for orphaned and disabled children. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian A. Stone/Released)

The ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation program is offering Sailors the opportunity to join tours ranging from cultural history to theme parks during the ship's stay.

"I've been to Singapore before, but this is my first chance to get out in town and actually see the city," said Lt. Roy Lopez, Commander, 7th Fleet lead force flow planner. "I'm going on a cultural tour of Singapore. Singapore has diverse cultures, and it's great to learn their history and how they've influenced the city."

USS Blue Ridge readies to provide aid to Japan

Story Number: NNS110312-13 Release Date: 3/12/2011 7:44:00 PM

By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Brian A. Stone
110312-N-0864H-210 SOUTH CHINA SEA (March 12, 2011) Sailors aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) move pallets of humanitarian relief supplies across the ship's flight deck during an underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), not pictured. Blue Ridge is ensuring the crew is ready if directed to assist with earthquake and tsunami relief operations in Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Fidel C. Hart/Released)

SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) -- Seventh Fleet command flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Sailors and embarked 7th Fleet staff members are preparing for humanitarian aid and disaster relief support operations while sailing toward the eastern coast of mainland Japan March 13.

Blue Ridge Sailors loaded a humanitarian aid/disaster relief (HADR) kit while moored in Singapore Friday night and set sail Saturday morning. Shortly after departing Singapore, the ship completed replenishment-at-sea operations with USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), receiving fuel and additional supplies.

"I'm amazed at the things we've achieved in such a short time," said Master Chief Information Systems Technician Lonnie Gillilan, who led the recent on-load preparations aboard Blue Ridge. "We've all been pulling together, no complaining. I'm very impressed."

Sailors worked past midnight Friday, loading equipment to allow Blue Ridge to provide fresh water and supplies during HADR support operations.

"It's giving me a sense of accomplishment to know that the work we're doing could help people out," said Fire Controlman 2nd Class Patrick Ramos, who helped push crates of supplies from the flight deck.

Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Jonathan Howton, a leading petty officer aboard Blue Ridge, has experience conducting HADR support operations in conditions similar to those location in Japan affected by the recent tsunami.

"I was aboard USS Iwo Jima when we provided aid to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina," said Howton. "In a disaster situation you have to prepare for the unknown. You never know what's going to happen."

USS Blue Ridge is uniquely equipped and able to perform amphibious command and control operations and is ready to support assigned HADR relief efforts.

Japan disaster: U.S. relief ops

Marine Corps Bases Japan assistant chief of staff, G-3 operations, in the Base Emergency Operations Center in Okinawa, Japan, March 11, 2011, after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit mainland Japan. Talleri, along with special staff members, is monitoring the situation as it develops and coordinating Marine Corps actions.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Matheus Hernandez

U.S. Air Force airmen load a pallet onto a U.S. Air Force C-17A Globe Master III, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., March 12, 2011. The supplies are in route to Japan for earthquake relief efforts. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Smith

U.S. Air Force airmen go over checklist and prepare mobility bags to Misawa Air Base, at Kadena Air Base, March 12, 2011. The airmen, assigned to the 18th Civil Engineer Group will assist Misawa personnel with regaining the electric and power capabilities. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lakisha Croley

Homer Hawkins a civilian contractor with Satellite Services Industries marshals in a U.S. Air Force C-17A Globe Master III from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., March 12, 2011, at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., in preparation to load supplies in route to Japan for earthquake relief. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Smith

From left, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Ramos, Seaman James Norman and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brett Carlson on board the U.S. 7th Fleet command flagship USS Blue Ridge on-load humanitarian assistance supplies in Singapore, March 11, 2011, to ensure the ship and crew are ready to support earthquake and tsunami relief operations in Japan if directed. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Fidel C. Hart


Also: The saga-in-progress of the USS Blue Ridge: link

Update, 3/16/11: More postings on U.S. relief efforts, especially pictures, at PDF: link

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hero of the Day: Thaddeus Kosciuszko

General Thaddeus Kosciuszko 1746 - 1817
Hero of America and Poland

He arrived in 1776, with a note of introduction and recommendation to George Washington by Dr. Franklin. " What do you seek here?" inquired the chief. "I come to fight as a volunteer for American independence," answered Kosciuszko. "What can you do?" asked Washington. "Try me," was the quick reply.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko was born in Poland on February 4, 1746, son of Ludwik and Tekla Kosciuszko. He attended school in Lubieszow and then the Cadet Academy in Warsaw before continuing his engineering studies in Paris, France. By the time Kosciuszko arrived in America from Poland in 1776, he was a skilled engineer who came to offer his services to the American colonies in their struggle for independence. On October 18, 1776 Kosciuszko was commissioned as Colonel of Engineers by the Continental Congress and began his outstanding service of fortifying battle sites, many of which became turning points in America's fight for independence against the British.

Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia in 1776, Kosciuszko read the Declaration of Independence and was moved to tears because he discovered in this single, concise document everything in which he truly believed. When he discovered that Thomas Jefferson was responsible for drafting the Declaration, he felt compelled to meet him. A few months later, while moving south with the Continental Army, Kosciuszko stopped in Virginia to meet with Jefferson. After a very warm reception, the two men spent the day comparing philosophies and eventually became the best of friends.

In the early days of the war, Kosciuszko helped to fortify the Philadelphia waterfront at Fort Mercer. Shortly after, he was transferred to New York, where he helped with fortifications along the Hudson and planned the defense for Saratoga. The Battle of Saratoga became known as one of military history's most famous struggles for independence and proved to be a turning point in the war.

In 1778, Kosciuszko was made chief engineer of West Point, New York. This fortification became known as the American Gibraltar because it was unable to be penetrated by the British Army. Eventually West Point became a military academy.

In 1783, Kosciuszko was appointed Brigadier General and was awarded the Cincinnati Order Medal by General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Washington also presented Kosciuszko with two pistols and a sword as gifts for his outstanding service to America.

After the colonies won their independence, Kosciuszko returned to Poland in 1784 to help his own country win independence from the surrounding European powers. Kosciuszko was the national hero of the 1794 insurrection. After the successful battle of Raclawice on April 4, 1794, first Warsaw and then Wilno were liberated from enemy occupation. Kosciuszko was wounded in the failed revolt and taken prisoner by the Russians. Upon his release from prison, he returned to America on August 18, 1797, which he considered his "second home." He received a hero's welcome when he reached the Philadelphia waterfront along the Delaware River. Afterward, he secured a residence at 3rd and Pine Streets, which is now the Kosciuszko House, a national memorial to this hero of the American Revolution.

Kosciuszko was admired by general and foot soldier alike, both for his technical knowledge and for his sympathetic understanding and generosity. Jefferson wrote of Kosciuszko, "He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known." Tragically, Kosciuszko, a devoted champion of the poor and oppressed, never witnessed the arrival of freedom in his homeland, Poland.

Kosciuszko was a firm believer of equality and requested, before leaving the United States for the second time, that the money from his estate be used to buy freedom for slaves, help to educate them and provide them with enough land to support themselves...

Kosciuszko's Advice to a Youth

To do honor to your family and yourself and at my recommendation, you must reread what follows every day so that it will be engraved on your memory on which your well being will depend.

Rise at four in the summer and six in the winter. Your first thoughts must be directed towards the Supreme Being; worship Him for a few minutes. Set yourself to work with reflection and intelligence, either at your prescribed duty carried out in the most scrupulous manner, or perfect yourself in some science in which you should have true mastery. Avoid lying under any circumstances in your life, but always be frank and loyal and always tell the truth. Never be idle but be sober and frugal even hard on yourself while indulgent to others. Do not be vain nor an egotist. Before speaking or answering on something, reflect and consider well in order not to lose your point and say something stupid. Never fail to give due recognition under any circumstances to the person who is in charge of your well being. Anticipate his desires and his wishes. Pay close attention with proper humility. Look for an opportunity to be useful. As you are a foreigner in the country, redouble your concern and efforts to gain trust and preference over the natives legitimately by your merit and superior knowledge. If a secret is entrusted in you, keep it religiously; in all your actions you must be upright, sincere and open; no dissimulation in your speech, do not argue but seek the truth calmly and with modesty, be polite and considerate to everyone, agreeable and obliging in society, humane and helpful to the unfortunate according to your means. Read instructive books to embellish your mind and improve your spirit. Do not degrade yourself by making bad acquaintances, but rather those with high principles and reputation thus your conduct should be such that the whole world approves it and that wherever you may be it will be considered irreproachable.

T Kosciuszko

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Way Out for Pakistanis

"Cowing down in front of extremism or being apologetic on their demands is what we have been doing. Abdicating responsibility and state power by agreeing to the demands of men of evil that block our streets to celebrate the murderer of a brave man who stood up for a poor Christian farmhand is what we have been doing."

There is a way out of this. It is not something Pakistanis accept easily. I've only witnessed it once, in 1971, when an anguished Pakistani diplomat consulted with my father about what to do as the Pakistani Army went on a rampage in his homeland. He decided to work to create Bangladesh as the only alternative to accepting mass murder imposed on his people by the government he had sworn allegiance to...

You have to assume the attitude that you, personally, are responsible for the fate of yourself, your family, and your neighbors. That means taking your own words seriously: the government has abdicated responsibility so its all up to you.

You have to organize. You'll have to safeguard your home somehow. You'll have to make like-minded friends.

Next you'll have to start building your own structure of self-government. Don't ask anyone's permission: I suggest you congregate together somewhere safe and set up your own democratic system. The Mayflower Compact is a good place to start. Ignore most external government regulations but continue paying your bills.

Very soon you'll be noticed. If the police object to your community you can point out that your democratic credentials give you a greater standing than their masters. Challenge them to follow the rules of your new community instead. What, would they rather be commanded by the Taliban?

Soon your community system will gather the loyalty of surrounding neighborhoods. Local politicians from the existing government will try to control you with kindness. You must reject them all. Your legitimacy is from popular support and the existing politicians have soiled themselves. You want to remain as clean as possible.

As your political sphere expands so will your responsibilities and the doors open to more power in the existing structure. I'm afraid you must reject these as well. Pakistan works by rule-of-force with a smear of democracy on top, all lubricated by corruption. My guess is that only the establishment of bicameral legislatures, democratic accountability, and checks-and-balances can "fix" the country. That will happen only if you make a successful start. If all goes well existing politicians will seek YOUR support. At this stage the new democratic system will gain legitimacy and the loyalty of the existing bureaucracy. At this point you'll probably want to call a Convention to draw up a new Constitution to formalize the changes.

(This route is similar to the route taken by the United States between 1776, when the American Colonies declared independence from Britain under the unwieldy Articles of Confederation, and 1789, when after a dozen-plus years of experience the most successful elements of state government together with the perceived necessity for greater central government helped craft the U.S. Constitution. In the end, the President of the Continental Congress surrendered the little power he had without a peep.)

I'm sure you'll reject this recipe the first time you read it so I urge you to read it again, ponder, and consider. It takes a lot of courage to step forward, and ordinary Pakistanis don't do this easily. But do you really want to spend your life "cowing down in front of extremism"? Or will you flee abroad, suspecting in your heart that in your absence your homeland will take further steps towards assured nuclear destruction?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who will Clean the Toilets under Islam?

Mutee: We should implement Islam in our country [Pakistan] and lives and everything thing will be fine we don't need anyone except we should just seek guidance from islam.

Solomon2: Who will clean the toilets under Islam?

Mutee: u can if u want

Solomon2: And if I don't, what then?

Mutee: Every one with a good civic sense and everyone who feels he has an obligation towards the society not by just cleaning toilets but doing everything that's needed to be done

Solomon2: Yet that would mean that the civic-minded who clean toilets are serving those not-so-civic-minded who use their time as they wish. Is that not injustice?

Mutee: When u implement a system everyone becomes a part of that system if that system is not flawed and it's NOT so everyone will come onboard and ur assuming that the only doing an odd job will be servicing the one not doing an odd job everyone will do his|her duty that shall be assigned to them by the society don't make it about one thing in particular

Solomon2: How is this different from the totalitarianism of Communism?

Mutee: Communism is a godless society and your services are rendered forcefully in this case it's different because you voluntarily offer your self to the community I am talking about something totally different

Solomon2: Yet you've pointed out that if I don't volunteer to clean the toilet I'll be assigned to do so, doubtless by someone who doesn't have to clean toilets at all. And if I don't like it, well, how do I know that both of us are serving G-d? It would appear to me that one of us isn't.

Mutee: Islam asks us to follow the leader an ameer prince of believers so as long as he delegates authority a Muslim living under his rule shudnt have a problem with that and if the ameer is not righteous and orders one to do something which is not allowed in Islam the responsibility is his on the day of judgment...I hope I have satisfied your Mind now tc brother

Solomon2: What you are saying is that I am supposed to accept serving a man, not G-d, and any injustice I may suffer at his hands will be remedied on the Day of Judgment? If that is that case, then how can implementing Islam in Pakistan possibly make "lives and everything thing fine" if the only remedy can be sought in the next world, not this one?

Mutee: well there CAN be a council of elders to watch over the ameer but it's the responsibility of pplmtonchose righteous one among them Pakistan will have to start from scratch if they want to do something like that it's about changing the mindset of ppl and pakistanis I see are very indifferent they don't care simply put and if you are suffering in this world there is no gurantee in anyother system that your sufferings will be over but in this system you have a chance that god fearing man will speak. Out on your behalf if you are treated badly

Solomon2: Under the influence of those who want to Islamicize Pakistan men and women cannot speak freely without fear of imprisonment or assassination. So why shouldn't Pakistanis choose a tried-and-tested constitutional form of government like America's rather than a religious dictatorship or the current smear-of-democracy-over-military-rule?

Mutee: Because those ppl have misrepresented Islam they are NOT the soldiers of Islam as they claim they are just thugs and criminals fighting to impose there own agenda all they do is kill in name if Islam they are a stigma to us and as far as your opinion is concerned if u say American democracy has worked well for everyone then ur simply wrong it worked but now it's failing I never visited USA but I have seen Europe I shudnt compare the two but I believe things in USA are going downhill but you guys don't see or feel the effects because systems are still well placed here in Pakistan there us no system just lot of corruption in the name if democracy and military rule

Solomon2: People have claimed America is going downhill for two hundred years. I figure that as long as we have some voices like that America will be O.K. Can you tell us why American-type democracy wouldn't work for Pakistan? At the very least you wouldn't need the totalitarianism that seems to be part of any scheme of Islamicization.

Mutee: I do admit that whatever Muslims has done so far will actually make someone very worried if someone talks about Islamic law but you have to distinguish between propaganda and facts no we don't want to rule the world we just want peace in our lives and this system cannot deliver

Solomon2: Constitutional democracy with the rule of law and minority rights will give you the opportunity to develop your ideas further with a proven system of justice and without fear of molestation. American democracy is far from perfect. We've spent over two hundred years perfecting the American Experiment. But it shows the best promise for the best government the world has ever seen. I, for one, would like to see more contributions Muslims could make towards perfection.

Muhammad-Bin-Qasim: 30 million unemployed is hardly what I would call a flourishing society... Thats the reality of America today... and they have run out of digits to count their debt...America is not a model for us... sorry Solomon 2... You have 2 try again... Do pardon the pun

Solomon2: We've experienced high unemployment and debt before and gotten out of such holes.

We'll be out of the debt situation eventually. Most people who, faced with the choice of taking on debt now to buy a house or car or waiting a few years to save the money, will choose debt and to pay off the loan through earnings. More debts will be paid off as the economy bounces back and earnings recover.

As for unemployment: some people consider Saudi Arabia as the closest entity on Earth to the ideal Islamic state. Yet its nationals - not "citizens" because I don't think of anybody as a citizen who can't pay taxes in their country of residence - also experience double-digit employment: an astounding 39 percent of Saudis aged 20-24 are without work. link

The Saudi King Abdullah, returning home to the adulation of his people from successful medical treatment in the U.S., has announced his cure to the problem, suddenly his primary concern in the wake of the 2011 Arab Revolutions: hire everybody! Even if they have nothing to do! Yes indeed, the oil-bloated Sauds, in possession of wealth far beyond the dreams of Croesus, have no need to tax their subjects or employ slaves as did their ancestors. All they require is a docile populace.

Yet isn't underemployment even worse in some ways than unemployment? Think of the waste of productivity, unused potential, lack of sense of accomplishment, and low level of joy, stuck in a dead job with little to point to as achievement, yet without being free to seek improvement elsewhere?

Well, in the West we also have a class of inhabitants who pay no taxes, who are expected to contribute little if anything to productivity, and who exist primarily to cheer and slobber when their master comes home.

They are called pets.

Mutee: well simply because most laws that still work here were established by the British which served their own intrest very well but unfortunately we never tried to amend those law we simply gave those law a makeover and implemented them again and accountability is not here because of these laws now since we have been living under the sane conditions for so long we have become immuned to any type for morals that's the mindset of our nation as a whole so I say other sstems can't work here we have to go back to our roots and starry reperaing from there instead if experimenting example for British laws I mentioned above Pakistan motor insurance law 1937 still applicable so an exotic car is not insured against terrorist activity u have to pay extra to put a special claw that protects against it

Solomon2: American ways are not the ways of British colonialism. Just look at our Declaration of Independence: most of it is devoted to Americans justifying breaking their oaths of loyalty to King and Crown due. The key issue is abuse of authority. Some of the complaints may even be familiar to Pakistanis: link Had Pakistan taken this route, rather than throwing off the British yoke while leaving its corrupting colonial system of governance intact, I doubt Pakistani would be as misgoverned as it is in today.

Flying Pig Day

As Nick Cohen at the Guardian finally voices the truth - his access to the Middle East safe now that democratizing revolutions are under way:
Far from being a cause of the revolution, antagonism to Israel everywhere served the interests of oppressors. Europeans have no right to be surprised. Of all people, we ought to know from our experience of Nazism that antisemitism is a conspiracy theory about power, rather than a standard racist hatred of poor immigrants. Fascistic regimes reached for it when they sought to deny their own people liberty. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the forgery the far-right wing of the decaying tsarist regime issued in 1903 to convince Russians they should continue to obey the tsar's every command, denounces human rights and democracy as facades behind which the secret Jewish rulers of the world manipulated gullible gentiles.

Absent armed conflict or the influence of tyranny, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism will continue to slowly decline and Israel gain acceptance. The U.S. is just a bystander in the great events in the Arab World today - which maybe is exactly how it should be.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The REAL Problem the West has with Revolutionary Egypt

Israeli officials, who have long viewed Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Suleiman as stabilizing influences in a dangerous region, have made clear to the administration that they support evolution rather than revolution in Egypt.”

I’m a Zionist and I’ve cheered for this revolution for years. Hate-monger Mubarak has had too many chances. The M-B are not a concern while they are being swamped by the mass of democracy-seekers on the streets. link

So what is the problem? I believe that the professional analysts, heads-of-state, New York Times journalists, etc, all have a common affliction: they are all successful people at or near the top of their food chain. Such folk feel that any change in the current status quo threatens their own position.

My favorite movie illustrating this disease is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The Klingons face a shock and dissident elements of both Federation and Empire undermine their own leaders to try to maintain their conflict rather than accept the “undiscovered country”, peace.

[Originally posted at Crossroads Arabia]

The Financial Times has a view penned by Ayaan Hirsi Ali that better conforms to the fears and desires of the elites - but one that offers greater opportunities for the Mubarak gang to hoodwink the Egyptian people: [h/t Elder of Zion]

Innumerable commentators have drawn analogies with the revolutions that swept eastern Europe in 1989.

This is to miss the profound difference between the western and the Muslim crowd. The people taking to the streets in north Africa and the Middle East have many motivations. But nothing unifies them more than the mass prayer of their religion – particularly the Friday prayer. It is the mosque as much as the street that is key to understanding this uprising.


Those who look forward to a 1989-style outcome – a peaceful transition to a secular, multi-party democracy – should remember how little experience the proponents of secular democracy have. The Muslim Brotherhood has been around since 1928, and draws on a 1,400-year-old tradition of submission....

The Mubaraks and Gaddafis of the Middle East are not an anomaly; they are the product of structural lack of freedom inherent in the crowd culture of the Islamic world. In this culture submission is instilled early on. If you are not allowed to talk back to your father, or teacher, or clergyman, submission to state tyranny becomes almost second nature. In such a setting, the methods to empower oneself – indeed to survive – are conspiracy, manipulation, intrigue and bribery. Those aspiring to positions of power fear that sharing it will weaken them and lead to humiliation. So once a position is achieved it is made permanent, from the lowliest bureaucrat to the president.

A culture that elevates individual submission oscillates between periods of apathy and occasional bouts of revolt. Arab leaders either rule for life, grooming their sons for succession, or end up having to flee.

So what can today’s Muslim crowds do to avoid the fate of all those mice who thought they glimpsed freedom but were in fact mere playthings of the cat?

The protesters must begin by acknowledging the factors that create an environment where tyrants thrive. For too long, outside forces have been the scapegoats of the Arab street. It is easy to blame the Zionists and America. It is harder to admit one’s own shortcomings.

But today’s crowds also need to articulate what they want. A participant in Egypt’s mass protests was asked on the BBC to comment on the leaderless quality of the demonstrations (February 4). His answer – “We don’t need a leader” – baffled the interviewer and no doubt most western viewers.

His aversion to leadership is understandable in the light of past Arab regime changes. Here, men who arrive as liberators have a way of morphing into dictators until the time when another man mobilises the masses to liberate the nation from their ex-liberator. The new man then rebuilds the old infrastructure of spies and torture chambers.

But is it realistic to have a leaderless revolution? In my view it is not. In the absence of leadership – which means not just one man but a legitimate command structure, as well as some kind of explicit manifesto – these protests will never achieve the truly revolutionary changes we saw in Europe in 1989.

Instead we shall see chaos and instability followed by a new era of authoritarianism; a brief democracy followed by a coup or a sharia government led by the Brotherhood.

So the crowd must become a real movement. They have to build civil institutions. They must hurry and compose a list of demands before they are dispersed. It is not enough just to ask for the despot to go. There need to be amendments to existing constitutions or new ones need to be written. And here America and Europe can offer help.

But when it comes to changing the culture of submission no one can help the Arabs but themselves. It is not their inexorable fate to be ruled either by dictators or by religious fanatics. They will achieve true freedom, however, only when they emancipate themselves from the peculiar power structure imposed on the Muslim crowd – by itself.

It's true, nobody in the West or Israel wants Islamic radicals to come to power. But these protesters aren't seeking to explode America, nor march across the Sinai to kill Jews. They want freedom to determine their own fate, not to serve the glory-seeking of masters. They are, indeed, the "huddled masses yearning to be free." Their leaders - even if they don't recognize themselves as such - are somewhat cognizant of the failed revolutions of the past hundred years (Russia, Iran, Lebanon) and will seek to avoid the same fate. Let us wish them luck and give them our moral and intellectual support during their historic struggle.

Update, 2/11/11 1:50pm: A few additional thoughts, now that Mubarak is gone. It seems I am one of the few Zionists who wholeheartedly supported the Egyptian Revolution. The Israelis worry that Mubarak's departure could mean Egypt will choose to go to war with the Jewish State. However, I think Israel is pretty far from Egyptians minds right now. Though it is understandable why Israelis are wary of the change. Mubarak crafted the image of building a volcano of Jew-hatred suppressed only by the fact that he sat on top of it. If not the West, then at least the Egyptians realized that their true priority was to get rid of tyranny, not Israel.

Now we will see how far the veracity of the theses Sharansky espoused in The Case for Democracy extend. Part of it has already been verified: applying democratic power, the Egyptians have rid themselves of Mubarak without embracing what twenty days ago seemed the only alternate, a terror-supporting regime. Perhaps the hatred inspired by a century of authoritarian dictators and mullahs will also start to dissipate. (Using terror to drive Jewish settlers out of Palestine was first proposed by the Mufti of Jerusalem in 1898.)

Update, 2/11/11, 3:50pm: Sparky Said: The dictators have been USING Israel as public enemy # 1 as part of their number one keys in their propaganda kit to keep them in power. This cattle prod has been an effective tool against its own citizens as a form of diversion against the real issues they face mainly economic ones. Of course this fire is fueled secretly and behind the scenes. Israel has been an effective a tool that they have used with Western governments and Israel alike in keeping them phobiasized that they have control over the Israel button. There is no Israel button!


The Brotherhood must be very worried. Although I don’t know their power in the smaller cities, they don’t show themselves much in Cairo and perceive they are a minority in Alexandria. They must realize that if they misbehave all it would take would be for rumor to spread and a fingernail of Tahrir Square – say, two thousand people out of two million – would peel off to deal with them.

It’s when the crowd gets tired and leaves the Square that I worry about. Then the machinations and organization of the M-B may come into play. But Arabs, Osama Bin Laden told us, are usually keen to bet on the “strong horse” – and today, that is democracy, not the Brotherhood.

I wonder what Zawahiri thinks now that Mubarak is gone? Surely he fantasizes returning to Egypt, but as a terrorist or as a democrat?

[Originally posted at Crossroads Arabia]

Sharansky on Egypt

From The Wall Street Journal:


'If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky's book, 'The Case for Democracy.'" With that comment in 2005, George W. Bush created a best seller, impelling hordes of statesmen, policy wonks and journalists to decode this Rosetta Stone of the "freedom agenda."

In the book, Mr. Sharansky argues that all people, in all cultures, want to live in freedom; that all dictatorships are inherently unstable and therefore threaten the security of other countries; and that Western powers can and should influence how free other countries are. Rarely have these arguments been dramatized as during the past weeks—in Tunisia [link], Jordan, Yemen and especially Egypt. So late Wednesday night I interviewed Mr. Sharansky to hear his explanation of our current revolutionary moment.

"The reason people are going to the streets and making revolution is their desire not to live in a fear society," Mr. Sharansky says. In his taxonomy, the world is divided between "fear societies" and "free societies," with the difference between them determinable by what he calls a "town square test": Are the people in a given society free to stand in their town square and express their opinions without fear of arrest or physical harm? The answer in Tunisia and Egypt, of course, has long been "no"—as it was in the Soviet bloc countries that faced popular revolutions in 1989.

The comparison of today's events with 1989 is a common one, but for Mr. Sharansky it is personal. He was born in 1948 in Donetsk (then called Stalino), Ukraine, and in the 1970s and 1980s he was one of the most famous dissidents in the Soviet Union—first as an aide to the nuclear physicist-turned-human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, then as a champion for the rights of Soviet Jews like himself to emigrate. His outspoken advocacy landed him in the Soviet Gulag for nine years (including 200 days on hunger strike).

Mr. Sharansky was released from prison in 1986, after his wife Avital's tireless campaigning earned his case international renown and the strong support of President Ronald Reagan. He moved to Israel, where he eventually entered politics and served until 2006 in various ministerial posts and in the parliament. Throughout, he preached and wrote about, as his book's subtitle puts it, "the power of freedom to overcome tyranny and terror."

This idea is the animating feature of a worldview that bucks much conventional wisdom. Uprisings like Tunisia's and Egypt's, he says, make "specialists—Sovietologists, Arabists—say 'Who could have thought only two weeks ago that this will happen?'" But "look at what Middle Eastern democratic dissidents were saying for all these years about the weakness of these regimes from the inside," and you won't be surprised when they topple, he says.

And yet policy makers from Washington to Tel Aviv have seemingly been in shock. Many of them—on the right and the left—look upon the demise of Hosni Mubarak and the potential rise of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood with dread.

"Why is there such a big danger that if now there will be free choice for Egyptians, then the Muslim Brotherhood can rise to power?" Mr. Sharansky asks. "Because they are the only organized force which exists in addition to Mubarak's regime." Mr. Mubarak quashed almost all political dissent, with the general acquiescence of his American patrons. But he couldn't stop the Brotherhood from spreading its message in mosques. Meanwhile, he used the Brotherhood as a bogeyman, telling the U.S. that only he stood between radical Islamists and the seat of power.

It worked. Mr. Sharansky says that in a 2007 meeting in Prague, President Bush told him that the U.S. supports Mr. Mubarak—to the tune of nearly $2 billion in annual aid—because if it didn't, the Brotherhood would take over Egypt.

For all his good intentions and pro-democracy rhetoric, Mr. Bush was inconsistent in practice. By Mr. Sharansky's calculus, simply propping up Mr. Mubarak's fear society would make it more likely, not less, that radicals would gradually become the only viable opposition and be best-positioned to gain power when the regime inevitably fell. And so it is today, as the Mubarak regime teeters.

Still, Mr. Sharansky finds reason for optimism. While recognizing common Israeli fears that Mr. Mubarak's ouster could give Hamas more power in and around Gaza and endanger the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, he doesn't expect the security balance to change much. As he wrote in "The Case for Democracy," over the past 30 years Israel's "border with Syria, with whom we do not have a peace treaty, has been just as quiet, and [I] suggest that Israeli deterrence is responsible for both."

Mr. Sharansky points out that Mr. Mubarak is no great man of peace. Indeed, since 1979, Egyptians' "hatred toward Israel only grew. . . . Egypt became one of the world centers of anti-Semitism." That's because all dictators must cultivate external enemies in order to maintain their grip on power. So even when Mr. Mubarak "lost Israel as an enemy, he continued to need Jews as the enemy."

Mr. Sharansky says the recent uprisings prove his fundamental contentions "that there are limits to how much you can control people by fear," and that all people, regardless of religion or culture, desire freedom. "That's a very powerful universal message. It was very powerful when the Iron Curtain exploded, and it's as powerful today," he says.

He has a prescription for what should happen next. First, he says there's no justification for Mr. Mubarak staying in place. "What would that mean? . . . He could continue for another few months or for another year, until [Egypt] explodes with more hatred toward America and Israel and the free world."

Second, U.S. policy should shift from its focus on illusory "stability" toward "linkage"—an approach that successfully pressured the Soviet Union. That means linking U.S. aid to Egypt's progress in developing the institutions of a free society.

If he were a U.S. senator, Mr. Sharansky says, he would immediately introduce a law to continue support to Egypt on condition that "20% of all this money goes to strengthening and developing democratic institutions. And the money cannot be controlled by the Egyptian government." Ideally his measure would kick in as soon as possible, so that it can affect the incentives of any Egyptian transitional government established to rule until September, when a presidential election is scheduled.

The model for such linkage is the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which forced the Soviet Union to allow Jewish emigration or lose the economically-valuable "Most Favored Nation" trade designation. But Jackson-Vanik has been controversial ever since its enactment 35 years ago, and Washington has shown little willingness to deploy linkage since.

But Mr. Sharansky holds out hope, partly because on Egypt "the statements from the White House are improving with every day, especially in comparison with its catastrophic statements at the time of the Iranian revolution [in 2009]." By his reckoning, the Obama administration's position during the recent Iranian protests was "maybe one of the biggest betrayals of people's freedom in modern history. . . . At the moment when millions were deciding whether to go to the barricades, the leader of the free world said 'For us, the most important thing is engagement with the regime, so we don't want a change of regime.' Compared to this, there is very big progress [today]."

Inconsistency is par for the course in this field. "From time to time," Mr. Sharansky says of the George W. Bush administration, "America was giving lectures about democracy." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a strong address in Cairo in 2005. And in 2002, by threatening to withhold $130 million in aid to Egypt, the administration successfully pressured Mr. Mubarak to release the sociologist and democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim from prison. In their final years, however, administration officials reverted to bureaucratic form and relaxed their pressure drastically.

President Obama relaxed it even further, Mr. Sharansky notes, inserting only vague language about democracy into his June 2009 address in Cairo. "There was no mention at all that at that moment democratic dissidents were imprisoned, that Mubarak had put in prison the leading [opposition] candidate in the past election," Ayman Nour.

Even if the U.S. embraces linkage, Egypt's September election could be quite problematic. "Only when the basic institutions that protect a free society are firmly in place—such as a free press, the rule of law, independent courts, political parties—can free elections be held," Mr. Sharansky wrote in "The Case for Democracy." In Egypt, those "free, developed institutions," he tells me, "will not be developed by September."

What can develop over the next eight months, Mr. Sharansky says, is a U.S. policy making clear that "whoever is elected cannot continue to survive—he cannot continue to rely on the assistance of the free world in defense, economics, anything—if democratic reforms are not continued and if democratic institutions are not built." After several years of such democracy-building, he says, when dissidents like Mr. Ibrahim enjoy the ability to build institutions like trade unions and women's organizations, "then in a few years you'll have a different country, and you can have really free elections."

For this to happen, "there must be consistent policy in the free world," says Mr. Sharansky. That means "no compromise for the sake of stability with those who will come to power—and who, inevitably, if they have the opportunity to lead as dictators, will try to lead as dictators."

"There is a real chance now," he says. "And the fact that it happened with the country which has the [second-] biggest level of assistance from the United States makes this chance for success even bigger if the leaders of the free world—and first of all the United States of America—play it right."

What shouldn't happen is a repeat of the 2006 election in Gaza, when Hamas won office without demonstrating any commitment to democracy, and Palestinian society had no checks in place to prevent the outcome from being one man, one vote, one time. But the Gaza scenario seems unlikely in Egypt, says Mr. Sharansky.

"Hamas really used a unique opportunity. First of all, there was the policy of Yasser Arafat, who really turned the daily life of Palestinians into a mafia [environment] with racket money paid by all the population to the leaders. That's why you saw when there were elections, many Christian villages like Taiba were voting for Hamas. Why is a Christian village voting for Islamic fundamentalists? Because they were like the Magnificent Seven, saving the village from the mafia. . . . Second, geographically, it was like there was a special closed area, Gaza, which was brought [to Hamas] on a plate by us."

So can the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt replicate Hamas's electoral coup in Gaza? "Only in one case: if the systematic practice of keeping people under dictatorship—so the dictatorship becomes more and more cruel against any dissident thinking— continues and strengthens. Then it'll unite people more and more around the only force which can resist this and get military and organizational and financial support: the Muslim Brothers. . . .

"That's why I'm saying we must be happy that [Egypt's uprising] happened now and not a few years later because then the Muslim Brothers would be even more strong. . . . This revolt happened when the Muslim brothers are not as strong as Hamas was."

With Cairo's streets still aflame, the immediate question is how far Mr. Mubarak will go to maintain his rule—how many police trucks will run down street protesters, how many plainclothes thugs will hunt down Western journalists in their hotel rooms. Beyond that, the question is whether over time Egypt will come to pass the town square test. "There is a good chance," says Mr. Sharansky, "but a lot depends. Some Egyptians are now working for this. The thing is whether the free world will become a partner in this work.

Mr. Feith is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.