Monday, March 18, 2013

Israeli First Visits, Iraqi Challenges!

Dagny goes Irish!

This was a cartoon published in the '30's

Stolen from a Bar MitzVah?
I received this from a friend, fellow memo reader and often critic of my commentary but now he seems a bit steamed himself. (See 1 below.)
Star Parker, star struck over what she saw in Israel. (See 2 below.)

The mayor of Savannah, Edna Jackson, also a black American like Star Parker , made her first trip to Israel last year and came back awed and is now a big booster of that tiny country.  So much so, in fact,  she is making a concerted effort to increase trade with Israeli companies and our city.
Obama pays Putin back for reset button which did not work?  (See 3 below.)

But then, nothing would surprise me when it comes to Obama's obsessive and freakish control  tendencies. (See 3a below.)
Netanyahu's gift is a reminder to Obama that  both nations have a Declaration of Independence. ((See 4 below.)

Analysis of Obama's visit to Israel. (See 4a below.)
A challenge to Bernard Lewis' thinking. Is it premature? Time will tell.  (See 5 below.)

Meanwhile, Wolfowitz admits Iraqi mistakes.  (See 5a below.)
1) Malia on break in Mexico

Know you’ll not have anything to say about this!!!   just FYI….
Yet they stopped school children from touring the White House due to "lack of funding."  This all makes perfect sense, right????
Spring break for a 13 year old - on taxpayers dime..
  Malia on break in Mexico
Obama’s 13 year-old daughter went, with 12 friends on “spring break” to Oaxaca Mexico.  All on your dime.
She took two jets,
12 friends and
25 secret service men. 
A thirteen year-old !!!
Why haven’t you heard about it? 
The Obama Administration had the Secret Service

scouring the web ordering that any website mentioning

this be taken down because letting the travel plans out

could endanger the president’s daughter’s security.
The “royal couple” just want to hide the way they are

ripping off the U.S. taxpayer.
Only a few Canadian Web-sites still have it up.
This trip cost more than most

Americans make in their entire

2) What I Saw in Israel

As President Obama prepares for his first trip to Israel, I hope when he gets there he sees what I saw.
Several weeks ago I returned from my first trip to Israel. I went with a delegation headed by Governor Mike
 Huckabee, who visits Israel at least once every year.
What did I see?
I saw kids, no more than 18 years old, walking down the street, waiting at bus stops, wearing Army green
 khakis, and carrying machine guns on their backs. One young girl was as black skinned as me.
Kids doing their compulsory army service as part of Israel’s citizen army. Three years for boys, two years for
 girls. No university deferment. First high school, then army, then university.
I also saw Masada. The fortress at the top of a mountain rising high above the Judean Desert, where, almost
 2000 years ago, a contingent of Jewish zealots, having fled Jerusalem after the fall of the second Temple,
 took their own lives rather than surrender to the Roman troops closing in on them.
New recruits into Israel’s army, the Israel Defense Forces, climb the long winding path to the mountaintop 
fortress at Masada and vow to not let Masada fall again.
I also saw Israel’s Holocaust Museum, Yad VaShem – the name taken from a verse in Isaiah, “….I will give in
 mine house and my walls a place and a name…an everlasting name which shall not be cut off…” that
 documents the horrors out of which the State of Israel emerged.
I walked through the halls of deep mourning and saw the displays, the photos, the books and papers,
 documenting the unimaginable.
The unimaginable and intentional slaughter of 6 million Jews, a third of the world’s Jewish population, done
 less then three quarters of a century ago and perpetrated by a German nation which was home to some of
 the foremost scientists, writers, and philosophers of modern times.
A crime of dimensions beyond human conception, perpetrated by a madman whom at the time some in the
 Western world thought they could do business with. Now today a madman in Iran, who some in the Western
 world think they can do business with, denies these events even occurred.
My thoughts turned with agony back to my own home in America where the lives of 55 million unborn children
 have been taken since 1973.
I saw the prime minister of Israel take 40 minutes out of his busy day, in the midst of trying to form a new
 government in this boisterous democracy, to welcome our small group into his office in the parliament
 building and take our questions. He even took one from me, which he answered at length and with care.
I saw a once barren land – a land once described by Mark Twain as “a desolate country…. a silent and
 mournful expanse” - now fruitful and ripe. Everything the Israelis have touched seems to have come alive
 and then some.
You see the result of the relationship of a land that uniquely goes with a people and the people that uniquely
 goes with that land, and you think of the Song of Songs: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine: he 
browses among the lilies.”
I saw the great hope of my scriptures come alive right before my eyes, and I was left exuberant and
 confident that the God of truth and justice is still speaking today.
In the words of the Psalmist: “When the Lord brings about the return to Zion we will have been like 
dreamers…. Then they will say among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them, The Lord has
 done great things for us. We will then rejoice.”
Yes, I pray that when the president of the United States lands in Israel, for his first time, that he sees what I
3)Obama Administration Caves to 

Putin on Missile Shield for Europe

By Kenneth Hanner

Buried in the news made late Friday made by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that the U.S. planned to 
deploy missile interceptors in Alaska and California was the equally important news that the Obama 
administration was going to stop long-held plans to fully deploy a missile shield in Eastern Europe.

The Pentagon insisted that the change in deployment had nothing to do with trying to assuage Russia and
everything with the threat from North Korea, which in recent months has sent a long-range missile into
 space, detonated a nuclear device, and, last week, sent a barrage ofmissiles into the Sea of Japan.

But the issue of the missile shield has long been seen as a sign of NATO's commitment to protect Europe
and former Soviet satellite states against a potentially belligerent Russia, which has made the anti-missile
deployment a key target in their diplomatic efforts with the U.S.

The U.S. plan had called for interceptors in Poland and Romania, complemented by deployed U.S. naval
ships outfitted in the Mediterranean. Hagel said the first three phases would be fully implemented, but the
 fourth, the deployment of a large interceptor warhead, would not go forward. 

At a meeting last March in South Korea, Obama told then-Russia President Dmitri Medvedev in remarks
picked up by a live microphone that he would have “more flexibility” on the missile shield issue following
an election victory.

Hagel's decision Friday confirms that Obama may be trying to live up to the promise, resolving a key part
 of the issue in Russia's favor early in his second term. The Obama administration reportedly believes the
move may encourage Russia to additional nuclear arm cuts. 

The Obama Administration recently offered an olive branch to Russia, indicating it planned to de-activate
one-third of the U.S. nuclear arsenal unilaterally and without Congressional approval.

The Pentagon said if the fourth phase deployment of the missile shield in East Europe, if re-started, would
 not take place earlier than 2022.

Russia and the United States have been at odds over a Central Europe-based missile defense system since
 first proposed by President George W. Bush to protect against missiles from Iran. 

NATO has argued the system's placement is not solely based on Russia's strategic arsenal, but places
interceptors close to the treaty organization's southern flank, able to deflect Iran's growing missile

Russia has maintained that the system is meant to counter its own missile arsenal. Russia maintains the
 world's largest nuclear arsenal and continues to modernize and upgrade its missile capabilities.

The shift has so far failed to change Russia’s opposition to first three phases of the Europe-based system
that has already been completed, although Moscow has yet to make any official pronouncements about
 Hagel's announcement.

Influential Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov said on Sunday that Moscow still opposes the missile-
defense system in Europe, Reuters reported.

“It would be premature to say that something has fundamentally changed,” said Pushkov, who heads the
foreign affairs committee in the Russian State Duma and is an ally of President Vladimir Putin. “The United
States is readjusting the missile defense system due to financial and technology issues—issues not related
 to the Russian position.” 

Russia's press services were also critical of the move. And Russia's RT news service said Moscow
remains concerned about U.S. efforts to build a radar station in the Czech Republic. RT said the station
will complement the deployed interceptors. 

Hagel also said there were technical difficulties with the system that was set to be deployed in Poland and
 Romania by early next decade and cited the $1 billion cost of the new North Korea defense system as
playing a key role in his decision.

Hagel made no reference during the Pentagon announcement to Russia’s objections to the system in
Central Europe, but said that the U.S. commitment to missile defense there “remains ironclad.”

Republicans in Congress criticized Hagel’s announcement on both fiscal and national security grounds.

“President Obama's reverse course decision will cost the American taxpayer more money and upset our
 allies," GOP Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee that
has oversight over the program, told the Associated Press

The Other Drone Question: Is Obama Building A Federal Police Force?
By Tara Servatius 

Less than two weeks ago, Sen. Rand Paul's demanded to know whether the president believed he had a
 right to kill an American citizen on American soil with a drone, finally getting an answer that had to be
 dragged out Attorney General Eric Holder.  An equally important, but still unasked question is whether thepresident intends to build a federal, drone-based "public safety" force to police local communities.

Somebody had better ask the president about this quickly, because it appears that his administration
 intends to use drones to actively usurp what were once local police and sheriff's department functions.
Put it all together, and it sure looks like Obama is building the backbone for that national police force he
 wanted the first time he ran for office.
Worse yet, both Democrats and Republicans are now openly discussing a plan to put all the drones flown
 in America's skies, including those owned and operated by local police departments, under the ultimate
 supervision of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, consolidating the country's surveillance and law enforcement powers under one powerful federal police jurisdiction.
According to, DHS is now experimenting with how its drones can be used in "first responder,
The DHS's drones could also be used, reported, "to support emergency and non-emergency
 incidents nationwide" and to give the department "situational awareness" in public safety matters or 
disasters, including forest fires. The department also plans to use its drones, and their attached cameras to
 surveil and police sporting events, political events and large public gatherings.
The problem with DHS's plans is that many of the above functions used to be handled by local law 
enforcement without any help from the federal government.
DHS appears to be planning a vast surveillance network, and it is rapidly developing the technology to
 create it. reports this about drone technology:
The Department of Homeland Security is interested in a camera package that can peek in on 
 almost four square miles of (constitutionally protected) American territory for long, long stretches of time.
Homeland Security doesn't have a particular system in mind. Right now, it's just soliciting
 "industry feedback" on what a formal call for such a "Wide Area Surveillance System" might look like. 
But it's the latest indication of how powerful military surveillance technology, developed to find foreign
 insurgents and terrorists, is migrating to the home front.
The Department of Homeland Security says it's interested in a system that can see between
 five to 10 square kilometers - that's between two and four square miles, roughly the size of
 Brooklyn, New York's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood - in its "persistent mode." By "persistent," it
means the cameras should stare at the area in question for an unspecified number of hours to collect what 
the military likes to call "pattern of life" data - that is, what "normal" activity looks like for a given area.
In America, community policing has always been done at the local level. If a police force engaged in 
corruption, abused people, or got out of control, local voters could and likely would rapidly vote out the 
mayor or council that controlled it. You could get a badge number. You could file a report. You could call
 your local newspaper. This has always kept police departments responsive to the will and the needs of local communities - and firmly under their control.
But drone technology is now allowing Washington's multitude of law enforcement agencies to begin to 
compete for police powers and police duties that have always fallen to local police departments.
Even more alarming, a subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security is currently studying a plan
 to put all the drones flown in America's airways under direct supervision of DHS and the Department of 
After a 2011 plot to use a drone to bomb the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol was thwarted by the FBI, 
Congress began exploring the idea of putting all drones - including those flown by local law enforcement
 agencies - under federal control to protect citizens against rogue drone operators with bad intentions.
The House Homeland Security committee, which oversees these matters, also became concerned last yea
r that other federal government agencies were "borrowing DHS drones or procuring their own for scouting
 populated areas - without the department's supervision," reported.
To deal with all of this, Committee on Homeland Security subcommittee Chairman Michael McCaul, a 
Republican from Texas, says the committee will mandate that DHS, the Justice Department and the FAA 
coordinate to oversee all drones that fly within the country, but has said he prefers that the Obama 
administration do so without a requirement from Congress.
While the intentions here might not be totalitarian, the ultimate outcome could be, especially as more 
federal and local law enforcement agencies come to rely on drone technology and the federal government 
begins to police the interior in ways that were unthinkable just 15 years ago, before the Department of 
Homeland Security - and the use of drone technology -- even existed.
On Washington's present track with this, in a decade it could be hard to tell where your local police
 department ends and the federal government begins

Technion Scientists Make President Obama Gift from Israel Prime Minister 

At the request of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Technion 

scientists help create a special gift in honor of President Barack Obama's 
visit to Israel. Replicas of the Declarations of Independence of the United 
States of America and the State of Israel are inscribed side by side on a 
nano-chip by scientists from Technion's Russell Berrie Nanotechnology 
Institute. The replicas were chiseled on a gold-coated silicon chip on an 
area 0.04mm2 by 0.00002mm, using a focused beam of gallium ions. The chip is 
affixed to a Jerusalem stone dating to the Second Temple period (1st century 
BCE to 1st century CE), used to seal clay vessels. Prof. Wayne Kaplan, Dean 
of Technion's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, takes you 
into the Dual-Beam Focused Ion Beam Lab and explains how this was done. Dr. 
Tzipi Cohen-Hyams is seen working on the nano-chip.

4a)Much Rides on Obama's Visit to Israel

Last week, at the annual Herzliya Conference on national security, speculation was rampant about the purpose of Barack Obama’s first visit to Israel as president of the United States. One common view was that what the American leader hopes to accomplish upon arriving here on March 20 is to get out of Israel as soon as possible.
Such an ambition would be understandable. In his first term, Obama sought to orchestrate a comprehensive resolution of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This, too, reflected an understandable impulse, even an admirable one. But at best he went about it naively. By putting significant pressure on the Israelis and none on the Palestinians, the president managed to sow distrust in Jerusalem and inflate expectations in Ramallah, a bad recipe for a peace process that demands painful concessions from both sides.

 In the winter of 2011, the Obama administration greeted the Arab Spring as the herald of liberty and democracy in the Middle East. Instead, as the Israelis had cautioned, the uprisings of 2011 have proved a destabilizing force in the region. They have been marked by the resurgence of Islamic tradition in contest with modernity, and the reemergence of sectarian and tribal loyalties in competition with the centralizing nation state.

Egypt, the largest and leading Arab state, is in crisis. It has lost control over swaths of its territory in the Sinai Peninsula and in sections of Cairo, its economy is in shambles, and it must import food for tens of millions.
Although President Bashar al-Assad is still hanging on two years after the outbreak of civil war, Syria is collapsing. Lebanon, fragile as always, is increasingly drawn into the Syrian conflict as Assad-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon seeks to protect its protector in Syria. Jordan must deal with an ascendant Muslim Brotherhood even as, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency, 350,000 Syrians have poured across its border. Libya remains fractured. Bahrain is teetering.
Meanwhile, despite unprecedentedly tough American-led sanctions, Iran continues to enrich uranium and process plutonium. In Israel, which is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring the capability of building a nuclear weapon, it is widely thought that Iran is months away from crossing that so-called “red” line.
The United States, Obama has insisted, is committed to preventing Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon, and will use all options -- including, as a last resort, a military one -- to achieve its goal. However, since preventing Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon is consistent with allowing Tehran to acquire all the elements for a bomb as long as it doesn’t assemble them, the United States draws a red line and operates on a timetable that differ from Israel’s.
On top of the lingering tensions and conflicting assessments, there is a widespread perception in Israel -- and throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and in the United States itself -- that the Obama administration aims to reduce the U.S. role in the Middle East. The thinking here is that America encounters no global enemy, as during the Cold War; Obama certainly does not regard Islamic extremism in the way Ronald Reagan regarded Soviet communism. Israelis also worry that the administration is preoccupied with budget battles with Republicans and winning back the House of Representatives in 2014. And, notwithstanding the president’s determination to promote clean energy, Israelis are concerned that the hydraulic fracturing revolution, which has already reduced America’s direct dependence on Middle East oil, will also lessen American interest in the region.
One can see how, in these circumstances, the Obama team may have concluded that the primary benefits of visiting Israel concern domestic politics. By means of a very public display of solidarity with Israel, the president may hope to silence domestic critics who charge that his decision not to visit Israel during his first term reflects a coldness toward the Jewish state, and to placate domestic supporters who wish to have their confidence in the president’s good intentions toward Israel reinforced.
But it is a mistake to believe that U.S. interests would be well-served by diminishing America’s role in the Middle East. Important tasks await the president in the region.
At the Herzliya Conference, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro vigorously insisted that the White House viewed the president’s impending visit as a chance to build confidence in an already strong relationship and to refine a joint understanding of America’s Middle East strategy.
According to Shapiro, Obama -- who will also be meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman -- will reaffirm the moral bond between the two democracies; underscore America’s unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security; and advance important foreign policy goals through in-depth discussions about the two countries’ shared interests.
The evidence indicates that the Israelis are taking this visit seriously. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who devoted last week to putting finishing touches on his new government, has made clear his intention to focus discussions with the president and his team on Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the disintegration of Syria, and the stalled peace process with the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s staff is working long hours, both to prepare for the substantial discussions and to ensure that all the ceremonial and public aspects of the presidential visit come off without a hitch.
Even in the best case scenario, one should not expect the president’s trip to yield dramatic announcements on Iran or Syria. But given the likelihood that a nuclear Iran would trigger an arms race in the Gulf region and thereby further destabilize an area of critical importance to the international economy, one should hope that Netanyahu and Obama make progress behind the scenes.
Progress would consist in improving cooperation on diplomacy, sanctions, and unconventional methods to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear program. Progress would also involve narrowing the differences between the United States and Israel over the appropriate red line regarding Iran.
When it comes to Syria, among the most important steps that the United States can take is to fortify Jordan. A pro-Western Sunni stronghold bordering Israel, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf of Aqaba, Jordan anchors the region. In the short term, the U.S. should increase foreign aid to help the regime contend with domestic unrest exacerbated by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Over the long term, Americans would get substantial return on their investment by concentrating on programs to promote the study of English and basic computer competence for all Jordanian children.

The onus in Jerusalem this week is not only on the United States. Netanyahu might seize the opportunity, in the afterglow of Obama’s visit, to announce a new Israeli peace initiative.
The majority view in Israel is that the best solution to the conflict with the Palestinians is two states for two peoples, a view Netanyahu himself endorsed in June 2009 in a speech at Bar-Ilan University. But a majority also understands that the sides are too far apart today to reach a final agreement. For example, many Israelis who favor an independent Palestinian state maintain that it must be demilitarized, while many Palestinians who are prepared to accept Israel insist that the Palestinian state, to be a truly sovereign nation, must be free to make those kinds of decisions itself.
The obstacles to a complete and satisfactory peace in the short term are daunting and numerous. They do not, however, obviate the possibility in the short term of taking important steps toward peace.
For starters, Netanyahu should create an occasion to reaffirm his commitment to two states for two peoples and invite the Palestinians and other Arab neighbors to come to the negotiating table, as he did in June 2009 at Bar-Ilan. Only this time, and with the backing of the U.S., Netanyahu should declare that if, within a certain period of time, nothing comes of his offer to negotiate, Israel will carry out a partial though substantial withdrawal from major Palestinian population centers in the West Bank while securing its control over major Jewish population centers and strategically critical areas beyond the Green Line. Israel, Netanyahu should also emphasize, will continue to seek out every opportunity to pursue direct talks with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors.
Obama’s Israel visit is much more than a chance to let bygones be bygones, reestablish his relationship with Netanyahu on sounder footing, and connect with ordinary Israeli citizens. It is also an opportunity to advance vital American national security interests through collaboration with our most dependable ally in the region.
A United States that turns its back on Middle East politics, that takes its eye off the ball in Iran, does little to contain the conflict in Syria, and fails to understand both the importance of a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the formidable obstacles to achieving it will ensure that down the road it will have to contend with political and humanitarian crises created by a surge of refugees, the proliferation of weapons (including those of mass destruction), and the spread of terrorism in the region and throughout the world.
Hopefully, Obama realizes all this and will be coming to Israel with the understanding that there is no escape for the United States from its responsibilities in the Middle East -- and no substitute for prudent leadership. 

5)What Went Wrong With Bernard Lewis?
By Andrew G. Bostom
I spent an hour with my colleague, the prolific author Robert Spencer, discussing Bernard Lewis, nonagenarian doyen of Islamic Studies. The entire interview, conducted as a segment for Robert's outstanding weekly series of Jihad Watch programs on the Aramaic Broadcasting Network, is embedded at the bottom of this posting. Please read the summary assessment of my concerns before watching the interview. A more detailed analysis of Lewis's analytic pitfalls can be read here.
Accrued over a distinguished career of more than six decades of serious scholarship, Bernard Lewis clearly possesses an enormous fund of knowledge regarding certain aspects of classical Islamic civilization, as well as valuable insights on the early evolution of modern Turkey from the dismantled Ottoman Empire. A gifted linguist, non-fiction prose writer, and teacher, Lewis shares his understanding of Muslim societies in both written and oral presentations, with singular economy, eloquence, and wit. Now 96 years old and still active, these are extraordinary attributes for which Lewis richly deserves the accolades lavished upon him.
I began expressing my concerns with the less salutary aspects of Lewis' scholarship in a lengthy review-essay (for Frontpage) on Bat Ye'or's seminal book Eurabia -- The Euro-Arab Axis, published December 31, 2004. Over the intervening years -- in the wake of profound U.S. policy failures vis a vis Islamdom at that time, and subsequently, till now -- this disquietude has increased considerably. As I demonstrate in my recent book, Sharia Versus Freedom, Lewis's legacy of intellectual and moral confusion has greatly hindered the ability of sincere American policymakers to think clearly about Islam's living imperial legacy, driven by unreformed and unrepentant mainstream Islamic doctrine. Ongoing highly selective and celebratory presentations of Lewis's understandings -- (see this for example) -- are pathognomonic of the dangerous influence Lewis continues to wield over his uncritical acolytes and supporters.
In Sharia Versus Freedom, I review Lewis's troubling intellectual legacy regarding four critical subject areas: the institution of jihad, the chronic impact of the Sharia on non-Muslims vanquished by jihad, sacralized Islamic Jew-hatred, and perhaps most importantly, his inexplicable 180-degree reversal on the notion of "Islamic democracy." Lewis' rather bowdlerized analyses are compared to the actual doctrinal formulations of Muslim legists, triumphal Muslim chroniclers celebrating the implementation of these doctrines, and independent Western assessments by Islamologists (several of whom worked with Lewis, directly, as academic colleagues; discussed at length here) which refute his sanitized claims.

Journalist David Warren, writing in March 2006, questioned the advice given President George W. Bush "on the nature of Islam" at that crucial time by not only "the paid operatives of Washington's Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the happyface pseudo-scholar Karen Armstrong," but most significantly, one eminence grise, in particular: "the profoundly learned" Bernard Lewis. All these advisers, despite their otherwise divergent viewpoints, as Warren noted, "assured him (President Bush) that Islam and modernity were potentially compatible." None more vehemently -- or with such authority -- than the so-called "Last Orientalist," nonagenarian professor Bernard Lewis. Arguably the most striking example of Lewis's fervor was a lecture he delivered July 16, 2006 (on board the ship Crystal Serenity during a Hillsdale College cruise in the British Isles) about the transferability of Western democracy to despotic Muslim societies, such as Iraq. He concluded with the statement, "Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us." This stunning claim was published with that concluding remark as the title, "Bring Them Freedom Or They Destroy Us," and disseminated widely.
While Lewis put forth rather non sequitur, apologetic examples in support of his concluding formulation, he never elucidated the yawning gap between Western and Islamic conceptions of freedom -- hurriyya in Arabic. This latter omission was particularly striking given Professor Lewis's contribution to the official (Brill)Encyclopedia of Islam entry on hurriyya. Lewis egregiously omitted not only his earlier writings on hurriyya but what he had also termed the "authoritarian or even totalitarian" essence of Islamic societies.
Hurriyya, "freedom," is -- as Ibn Arabi (d. 1240) the lionized "Greatest Sufi Master," expressed it -- "perfect slavery." And this conception is not merely confined to the Sufis' perhaps metaphorical understanding of the relationship between Allah the "master" and his human "slaves." Following Islamic law slavishly throughout one's life was paramount to hurriyya, "freedom." This earlier more concrete characterization of hurriyya's metaphysical meaning, whose essence Ibn Arabi reiterated, was pronounced by the Sufi scholar al-Qushayri (d. 1072/74).
Let it be known to you that the real meaning of freedom lies in the perfection of slavery. If the slavery of a human being in relation to God is a true one, his freedom is relieved from the yoke of changes. Anyone who imagines that it may be granted to a human being to give up his slavery for a moment and disregard the commands and prohibitions of the religious law while possessing discre¬tion and responsibility, has divested himself of Islam. God said to his Prophet: "Worship until certainty comes to you." (Koran 15:99).
As agreed upon by the [Koranic] commentators, "certainty" here means the end (of life).
Bernard Lewis, in his Encyclopedia of Islam analysis of hurriyya, discusses this concept in the latter phases of the Ottoman Empire, through the contemporary era. After highlighting a few "cautious" or "conservative" (Lewis's characterization) reformers and their writings, Lewis maintains,
there is still no idea that the subjects have any right to share in the formation or conduct of government-to political freedom, or citizenship, in the sense which underlies the development of political thought in the West. While conservative reformers talked of freedom under law, and some Muslim rulers even experimented with councils and assemblies government was in fact becoming more and not less arbitrary.
Lewis also makes the important point that Western colonialism ameliorated this chronic situation:
During the period of British and French domination, individual freedom was never much of an issue. Though often limited and sometimes suspended, it was on the whole more extensive and better protected than either before or after. [emphasis added]
And Lewis concludes his entry by observing that Islamic societies forsook even their inchoate democratic experiments,
In the final revulsion against the West, Western democracy too was rejected as a fraud and a delusion, of no value to Muslims.
Writing contemporaneously elsewhere, Lewis concedes that (with the possible exception of Turkey), following the era of the French Revolution, 150 years of prior experimentation with Western secular sovereignty and laws in many Islamic countries, notably Egypt, had not fared well.
[T]he imported political machinery failed to work, and in its breakdown led to the violent death or sudden displacement by other means of ministers and monarchs, all of whom had failed to replace even the vanished Sultanate in the respect and loyalties of the people. In Egypt a republic was proclaimed which in some respects seems to be a return to one of the older political traditions of Islam-paternal, authoritarian Government, resting on military force, with the support of some of the religious leaders and teachers, and apparently, general acceptance. Perhaps that is an Islamic Republic of a sort.
Moreover, Lewis viewed the immediate post-World War II era of democratic experimentation by Muslim societies as an objective failure (again, with the possible exception of developments, at that time, in Turkey), rooted in Islamic totalitarianism, which he compared directly (and unabashedly) to Communist totalitarianism, notingtheir "uncomfortable resemblances" with some apprehension.
I turn now from the accidental to the essential factors, to those deriving from the very nature of Islamic society, tradition, and thought. The first of these is the authoritarianism, perhaps we may even say the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition [emphasis added]. . . . Many attempts have been made to show that Islam and democracy are identical-attempts usually based on a misunder¬standing of Islam or democracy or both. This sort of argument expresses a need of the up- rooted Muslim intellectual who is no longer satisfied with or capable of understanding traditional Islamic values, and who tries to justify, or rather, re-state, his inherited faith in terms of the fashionable ideology of the day. It is an example of the romantic and apologetic presentation of Islam that is a recognized phase in the reaction of Muslim thought to the impact of the West... [T]he political history of Islam is one of almost unrelieved autocracy [emphasis added]. . . [I]t was authoritarian, often arbitrary, sometimes tyrannical. There are no parliaments or representative assemblies of any kind, no councils or communes, no chambers of nobility or estates, no municipalities in the history of Islam; nothing but the sover¬eign power, to which the subject owed complete and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by the Holy Law... Quite obviously, the Ulama [religious leaders] of Islam are very dif-ferent from the Communist Party. Nevertheless, on closer examination, we find certain uncomfortable resemblances. Both groups profess a totalitarian doctrine, with complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth; the answers are different in every respect, alike only in their finality and completeness, and in the contrast they offer with the eternal ques¬tioning of Western man. Both groups offer to their members and followers the agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of unbelievers, who are always wrong. Both offer an exhilarating feeling of mission, of purpose, of being engaged in a collective adventure to accelerate the historically inevitable victory of the true faith over the infidel evil-doers. The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, two necessarily opposed groups, of which-the first has the collective obligation of perpetual struggle against the second, also has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. There again, the content of belief is utterly different, but the aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same. The humorist who summed up the Communist creed as "There is no God and Karl Marx is his Prophet" was laying his finger on a real affinity. The call to a Communist Jihad, a Holy War for the faith-a new faith, but against the self-same Western Christian enemy -- might well strike a responsive note.[emphases added]
Six decades after Lewis made these candid observations, there is a historical record to judge -- a clear, irrefragable legacy of failed secularization efforts, accompanied by steady grassroots and institutional re-Islamization across the Muslim world, epitomized, at present, by the Orwellian-named, "Arab Spring." The late P. J. Vatikiotis (d. 1997), Emeritus Professor of Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), was a respected scholar of the Middle East, who, contemporaneous with Lewis (a SOAS colleague), wrote extensively about Islamic reformism throughout the twentieth century, particularly in Egypt. Focusing outside Turkey and Pakistan on the Arab Middle East (i.e., Egypt, the Sudan, Syria, and Iraq), Vatikiotis wrote candidly in 1981 of how authoritarian Islam doomed inchoate efforts at creating political systems which upheld individual freedom in the region:
What is significant is that after a tolerably less autocratic/authoritarian political experience during their apprenticeship for independent statehood under foreign power tutelage, during the inter-war period, most of these states once completely free or independent of foreign control, very quickly moved towards highly autocratic-authoritarian patterns of rule. . . . One could suggest a hiatus of roughly three years between the departure or removal of European influence and power and overthrow of the rickety plural political systems they left behind in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and the Sudan by military coups d'etat.
Authoritarianism and autocracy in the Middle East may be unstable in the sense that autocracies follow one another in frequent succession. Yet the ethos of authoritarianism may be lasting, even permanent. . . . One could venture into a more ambitious philosophical etiology by pointing out the absence of a concept of 'natural law' or 'law of reason' in the intellectual-cultural heri¬tage of Middle Eastern societies. After all, everything before Islam, before God revealed his message to Muhammad, constitutes jahiliyya, or the dark age of ignorance. Similarly, anything that deviates from the eternal truth or verities of Islamic teaching is equally degenerative, and therefore unacceptable. That is why, by definition, any Islamic movement which seeks to make Islam the basic principle of the polity does not aim at innovation but at the restoration of the ideal that has been abandoned or lost. The missing of an experience similar, or parallel, to the Renaissance, freeing the Muslim individual from external constraints of, say, religious authority in order to engage in a creative course measured and judged by rational and existential human standards, may also be a relevant consideration. The individual in the Middle East has yet to attain his independence from the wider collectivity, or to accept the proposition that he can create a political order.
Unlike Vatikiotis, Bernard Lewis has ignored these obvious setbacks. Remarkably, Lewis, as evidenced by his current volte-face on the merits of experiments in "Islamic democracy" has become a far more dogmatic evangelist for so-called Islamic democratization, despite such failures!
Consistent with Lewis' admonition, "Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us," the U.S. military, at an enormous cost of blood and treasure, liberated Afghanistan and Iraq from despotic regimes. However, as facilitated by the Sharia-based Afghan and Iraqi constitutions the U.S. military occupation helped midwife -- which have negated freedom of conscience and promoted the persecution of non-Muslim religious minorities -- "they," that is, the Muslim denizens of Afghanistan and Iraq, have chosen to reject the opportunity for Western freedom "we" provided them, and transmogrified it into "hurriyya." Far more important than mere hypocrisy -- a widely prevalent human trait -- is the deleterious legacy of his own Islamic confusion Bernard Lewis has bequeathed to Western policymaking elites, both academic and nonacademic.
Blithely ignoring the deleterious effects of the advice he has proffered, Lewis plods on, without seeming acknowledgment of that failing. When asked by interviewer Peter Robinson during a question and answer session filmed at the November, 2012 National Review cruise, "What can we [i.e., the U.S.] do to nurture those elements?," [i.e., referring to a Lewis quote which introduced the segment that claimed there were indigenous "elements" in the Middle East which promote consensual government], Lewis replied "We can refrain from supporting tyrants." Lewis added that the U.S. erred in applying the simple standard, "Are they with us or against us."
Let me conclude by noting that Lewis's apologetic tendencies must have been attractive to the Muslim Brotherhood/Saudi Wahhabi front the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, and its pseudo-academic Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA), which has been an Abedin family enterprise since 1979. Regardless of whether Lewis was a willing dupe, or not, he served on the editorial board of the JMMA for some 14 years, from 1996 to 2010, despite the fact this "academic" journal was, and remains, a thinly veiled mouthpiece for Sharia supremacism. These critical limitations of his scholarship and judgment have implications which must also be recognized by all those for whom Lewis remains an iconic source of information, and advice, especially policy advice.

This very detailed WSJ analysis-a Bernard Lewis pom-pom section if there ever was one-by Peter Waldman, circa February, 2004  ("A Historian's Take on Islam Steers U.S. in Terrorism Fight  Bernard Lewis's Blueprint -- Sowing Arab Democracy -- Is Facing a Test in Iraq Peter Waldman /Wall Street Journal, Feb 3, 2004), merits re-consideration. It stands asconfirmation of Lewis's profound influence in shaping the "Islamic democracy agenda," no matter what Lewis has done to disingenuously reinvent  his role in the Iraq invasion and larger "Islamic democratization" efforts (as in this April, 2012 interview).
From Waldman's 2/3/2004 WSJ piece:
Call it the Lewis Doctrine. [emphasis added] Though never debated in Congress or sanctified by presidential decree, Mr. Lewis's diagnosis of the Muslim world's malaise, and his call for a U.S. military invasion to seed democracy in the Mideast... As mentor and informal adviser to some top U.S. officials, Mr. Lewis has helped coax the White House to shed decades of thinking about Arab regimes and the use of military power. Gone is the notion that U.S. policy in the oil-rich region should promote stability above all, even if it means taking tyrants as friends. Also gone is the corollary notion that fostering democratic values in these lands risks destabilizing them. Instead, the Lewis Doctrine says fostering Mideast democracy is not only wise but imperative. [emphasis added]...Eight days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with the Pentagon still smoldering, Mr. Lewis addressed the U.S. Defense Policy Board. Mr. Lewis and a friend, Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi -- now a member of the interim Iraqi Governing Council -- argued for a military takeover of Iraq to avert still-worse terrorism in the future, says Mr. Perle, who then headed the policy board. [emphases added]...A few months later, in a private dinner with Dick Cheney at the vice president's residence, Mr. Lewis explained why he was cautiously optimistic the U.S. could gradually build democracy in Iraq, say others who attended. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" just before the invasion of Iraq, Mr. Cheney said: "I firmly believe, along with men like Bernard Lewis, who is one of the great students of that part of the world, that strong, firm U.S. response to terror and to threats to the United States would go a long way, frankly, toward calming things in that part of the world."...When told his political influence was a focus of this article, he turned down an interview request. "It's still too early," he said. "Let's see how things turn out" in Iraq. In speeches and articles, Mr. Lewis continues to advocate assertive U.S. actions in the Mideast, but his long-term influence is likely to turn on whether his neoconservative acolytes retain their power in Washington in years to come. [emphases added]

5a) 10 Years On, Paul Wolfowitz Admits U.S. Bungled in Iraq

The former deputy Pentagon chief, Paul Wolfowitz, a driving force behind the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, has conceded that a series of blunders by George W. Bush’s administration plunged Iraq into a cycle of violence that “spiralled out of control”.

In an interview with The Sunday Times to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, he said there “should have been Iraqi leadership from the beginning”, rather than a 14-month occupation led by an American viceroy and based on “this idea that we’re going to come in like [General Douglas] MacArthur in Japan and write the constitution for them”

He accepted that too many Iraqis were excluded by a programme to purge members of the ruling Ba’ath party, that the dissolution of the Iraqi army was botched and that the “biggest hole” in post-war planning was not to anticipate the possibility of an insurgency.
“The most consequential failure was to understand the tenacity of Saddam’s regime,” he said.
Wolfowitz, 69, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington since he stepped down as World Bank president in 2007, has a somewhat diffident manner but he became animated as he reflected on the lead-up to the invasion and its aftermath.
He portrayed the Bush administration as deeply divided and he was fiercely critical of Colin Powell, the then secretary of state.
It was “outrageous” and “a joke” for Powell — who reportedly used to speak of a “Gestapo office” at the Pentagon — to have suggested that the case for the Iraq War was concocted by Wolfowitz and a cabal of fellow neoconservatives within the Bush administration, he said.
“I don’t think I ever met with the president alone. I didn’t meet with him very often. Powell had access to him whenever he wanted it. And if he was so sure it was a mistake why didn’t he say so?”
Wolfowitz called for Saddam’s overthrow during the 1991 Gulf War and was the first senior official to advise Bush, days after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, to seek regime change in Iraq.
He denied that he was “the architect” of the Iraq invasion. “It wasn’t conducted according to my plan.”
His desire, he said, was to train Iraqi exile troops to take part in the invasion and then avoid the “illusion” that Americans could run the country better than Iraqis. “Most Americans needed a translator, which in itself was a terrible weakness because translators were either vulnerable to assassination or they were working for the enemy.”
Wolfowitz’s familiar shock of greying hair — mocked by Michael Moore in the anti-war documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which uses footage of him trying to smooth it down with spit before a television appearance — is now almost white.
But he believes it is still too soon to pass judgment on the wisdom of the invasion of Iraq, which began 10 years ago this week.
“We still don’t know how all this is all going to end,” he said. “With the Korean War , it is amazing how different Korea looks after 60 years than it looked after 10 or even 30.”
The Iraq counterinsurgency strategy implemented in 2007, two years after Wolfowitz had left the Pentagon, was “impressively successful in a relatively short space of time”, even though the situation “had spiralled out of control and we’d had sectarian war”.
There would have been a high price to pay for inaction over Saddam, he insisted. “We would have had a growing development of Saddam’s support for terrorism.
“We would very likely either have had to go through this whole scenario all over but probably with higher costs for having delayed, or we’d be in a situation today where not only Iran was edging towards nuclear weapons but so was Iraq and also Libya.”
Wolfowitz lambasted those who accuse Bush of lying about Iraq. The conclusion that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was “the consensus judgment of the intelligence community” and of most Democratic senators — “Hillary Clinton certainly was one of them”.
He added: “The falsehood that the president lied, which by the way is itself a lie, is so much worse than saying we were wrong. A mistake is one thing, a lie is something else.”
Before the invasion, Wolfowitz was an admirer of Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi exile who has since broken with the US government.
Asked if he thought Chalabi, whose Iraqi National Congress is said to have supplied much of the information to US intelligence that prompted the invasion, had been straight with America, Wolfowitz replied: “I don’t think anybody in that part of the world was completely straight with us. They all had their agendas.”
By implication, Wolfowitz is critical of the US military, some of whose generals suggested sending in as many as 300,000 troops. “I don’t want to get into the finger-pointing business but we had sort of forgotten everything we’d learnt 30 years before about counterinsurgency . . . this was not the kind of war you win by overwhelming force.”
His biggest fear now is that war weariness will prompt America to abandon Iraq and leave Syria’s rebels to their fate, just as the Shi’ite rebels in southern Iraq were allowed to be crushed by Saddam in 1991.
“If those rebellions had succeeded, we would never have had that second [Iraq] war . . . that is the lesson we should be applying in Syria today.
“Instead, somehow people are afraid to do anything to help the Syrian rebels lest we end up with an invasion and occupation of Syria. But that isn’t on the table.”
Over the years, Wolfowitz has quietly visited grievously wounded troops at Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington as well as the families of those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Asked whether the deaths and injuries of troops weigh on him, he paused before responding: “I realise these are consequential decisions. It’s just that they’re consequential both ways.
“I don’t want to start to reopen this whole debate about 9/11 and what our overall response was and the fact that we haven’t been hit again.
“But at the core of it to me is we faced a very serious threat. I think we’ve done remarkably well at preventing a recurrence.”

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