Iran has converted one of its most powerful ballistic missiles into a satellite launch vehicle. The 30-ton rocket could also be a wolf in sheep’s clothing for testing longer-range missile strike technologies

Iran has converted one of its most powerful ballistic missiles into a satellite launch vehicle. The 30-ton rocket could also be a wolf in sheep’s clothing for testing longer-range missile strike technologies, Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine reports in its Jan. 29 issue.

The Iranian space launcher has recently been assembled and “will liftoff soon” with an Iranian satellite, according to Alaoddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

The move toward an independent space launch capacity is likely to ratchet up concern in the U.S. and Europe about Iran’s strategic capabilities and intents. Orbiting its own satellite would send a powerful message throughout the Muslim world about the Shiite regime in Tehran.

U.S. agencies believe the launcher to be a derivation of either of two vehicles — the liquid-propellant, 800-1,000-mi. range Shahab 3 missile, or the 1,800-mi. range, solid propellant Ghadar-110. A Shahab 3 or a Ghadar-110 fired from central Iran could strike anywhere in Israel, Saudi Arabia, the entire Persian Gulf region and as far west as southern Turkey.

There are concerns in the West that space launch upgrades, however, could eventually create an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of nearly 2,500 mi., giving Tehran the ability to strike as far as central Europe, well into Russia and even China and India.

The U. S. Defense Intelligence Agency has told the Congress that Iran may be capable of developing a 3,000-mi. range ICBM by 2015.

“But ultimately, their space program aims to orbit reconnaissance satellites like Israel’s “Ofek,” using an Iranian satellite launcher from Iranian territory, says Uzi Rubin, the former head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization. Rubin made his assessment in a report for The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

“A reconnaissance satellite of reasonable performance should weigh about 300 kg. [660 lb.] Once Iran learns how to put 300 kg. into earth orbit, it could adapt the satellite launcher into an ICBM that could drop more than 300 kg anywhere in the world. Remember the impact on the U.S. of Russia’s launch of Sputnik,” Rubin says in his assessment.

Boroujerdi’s made his remarks about the imminent Iranian launch in a speech before a group of religious students and clerics in the city of Qom near where Iran has conducted some of its ballistic missile tests. Iran is now in the midst of military exercises that include a series of shorter-range missile tests, Iranian officials say.

Although designed as a technology demonstrator, the planned satellite launch would be a potent political and emotional weapon in the Middle East.

The new space launcher and ongoing missile development is also significant in that it highlights close technological ties between the Iranian and North Korean missiles programs, intelligence agencies agree.

Analysts at GlobalSecurity.org believe that if the version used is the Shahab 3, the modification could be a stepping stone to a clone of the North Korean Taepo Dong 2C/3 ballistic missile that failed in a launch attempt from North Korea last July 4.

A November 2006 Congressional Research Service report reinforced concerns over Iranian and North Korean missile development ties. It notes that Israel’s military intelligence chief has information indicating that North Korea has shipped to Iran eighteen 1,500 mi. range BM-25 ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

“Largely with foreign help, Iran is becoming self-sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles,” says the report’s author, Kenneth Katzman. And he reminds that a 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy Document notes, “The United States may face no greater challenge from a single country than Iran.”

Photo credit: IRIB-1

Iraq and the Ghost of Johnnie Cochran

Iraq and the Ghost of Johnnie Cochran

By Michael J. O’Shea

It was a wickedly simple strategy. It still is. Killer becomes accuser, cop gets crucified, killer walks.
Brentwood the stage then, Baghdad the stage now.
But the play is the same.
The Killer
Every horror in Iraq today – killing, kidnapping, refugee – was more horrid under Saddam. There was no hope. There was only Saddam.

“I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if He wants, He will send it to heaven with the martyrs”

No matter that his Iraq was more savage than Darfur and rivaled Rwanda.
No matter that thousands fled in terror from him; thousands died grotesquely because of him; thousands of children shriveled into corpses malnourished due to him; rape rooms screamed to the delight of him; bodies twisted, tortured on orders from him; power, marshlands, minds were corroded because of him: so Saddam could be esteemed as supreme, worshipped even more than the God he professed to adore while he whored Iraq.
He would have been even more horrid had he still reigned.
Freed from sanctions, fueled by cash, rebuilding weapons he was determined to gain again – and with Iran arming next door – Saddam would have shown Ahmadinejad how to make the world tremble.
Stories gloated about what Iraq Study Group inspector Charles Duelfer did not find in Iraq after Saddam fell. And junked what he did find.

“Saddam never abandoned his intentions to resume a CW [Chemical Warfare] effort when sanctions were lifted and conditions were judged favorable”

ISG judges that Iraq maintained the expertise and equipment necessary for R&D of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins that could be used as BW [Biological Warfare] agents up until Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in March 2003″

Saddam aspired  to develop a nuclear capability-in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks-but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities.”

He wanted nuclear weapons to guarantee his legacy and to compete with powerful and antagonistic neighbors; to him, nuclear weapons were necessary for Iraq to survive.”

The Iraqis never intended to meet the spirit of the UN resolutions. Outward acts of compliance belied a covert desire to resume WMD activities.”

The Regime  sought a favorable relationship with France because France was influential as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and was in a good position to help Iraq with lifting sanctions.”

as part of his efforts to escape sanctions, Saddam launched a vigorous campaign to shape international opinion. The Regime drew attention to everything from poor sanitation to the absence of electric power; the main effort, however, focused on the impact of sanctions upon children, especially those under five years of age.”

For twelve years Saddam stalled, dodged, deceived. UN inspectors proved he had built Weapons of Mass Destruction, demanded proof he no longer had them, ordered him under international law to reveal everything, destroy nothing, turn all – weapons, precursors, plans, plants, documents, equipment – over to UN inspectors.
And received only lie after lie after lie sworn to be truth.
Not one of the UN inspection chiefs – not Rolf Ekeus, not Richard Butler, not Hans Blix, not Mohamed ElBaradei – could prove he no longer had prohibited weapons. Nor did they need to: it was for Saddam – and only Saddam – to convince the world he had nothing.
Colin Powell put it bluntly:

“The resolution does not call for them to go snooping all over Iraq to see what they can find; the resolution puts the burden not on the inspectors but on Saddam Hussein to come forward, complete declaration, full cooperation, and telling us everything that has been going on in Baghdad and throughout Iraq, lo these many years, with respect to weapons of mass destruction.”

Instead, Saddam used children as pawns, sympathy pawns to lift sanctions – not for the children – but so he could rearm. Not a single child mattered to him – sacrifices all on his altar to himself. His charade mattered most.  Saddam, short order cook ready to fire up, would reign. And be remembered. Uday might succeed him, Qusay might: but neither would be Saddam. 
Nebuchadnezzar. Saladin. Saddam. Gods walking the face of the earth. But only Saddam would have weapons that could destroy the earth.
His would-be successors would be even worse.
They too kill – but for here-and-now power, using religion as a mask, suckering those also without soul to die crying “God is great.”
As they blast children into scraps of flesh, tidbits of bone.
Cannibals, devouring even their own, to rule.
Saddam used sympathy to get what he sought. His would-be successors use “civil war.”
There is no civil war in Iraq. There is no sectarian war in Iraq. There is a power war in Iraq to see who rules – and how.
Al Qaeda would rule as the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. It would use Iraq as Al Qaeda used Afghanistan: to attack, fueled this time by 115 billion barrels of oil. At $60 dollars a barrel, what weapons couldn’t it buy?
Al Qaeda is pledged to get WMD. Pledged to use WMD. Pledged to destroy the United States. It cares nothing about life. It cares only about death.
Saddamists would rule as Saddam did: ruthlessly, vengefully, destroying all who brought Saddam down, jeered as he hung, paraded at his death, mocked his name.
Shia fanatics would rule as Iran is ruled. America – Satan – would know Hell. This earth does not matter. Its end does not matter. Death to America matters.
Seventy percent of Iraqi voters instead sought peace, still seek peace. They understand what the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference – Sunni and Shia both – meant when it issued

“a reminder to all Muslim in Iraq of the immense gravity of killing others Muslims, which is considered by Islam as a crime against humanity.”

The OIC – “Muslim scholars and the religious establishments in Iraq, Shiite or Sunni combined” - went on:

every Iraqi will be facing his responsibilities towards his Creator, his faith, his homeland, and his people, if he opts to get himself involved in the sectarian killing, an act which is totally abhorred by the religion”

The OIC’s Secretary-General further stressed 

and affirmed,

“this august gathering of eminent Muslim scholars and jurisprudential authorities are determined to put an end to the bloodshed, the killing of innocent human beings, the spreading of evil and wickedness on the earth, the terrorization of the innocent, and filling Iraq with scores of thousands of orphans, widows, and women dispossessed of their children or husbands.”

He quoted Ayatollah Sistani saying

what exist in Iraq was not sectarian strife between Iraqi Shiites and Muslim but political crisis”

and reminding all Iraqis

“to stop all forms  of violence against each other so that scenes of car bombs, indiscriminate assassinations, forced expulsions and other tragic scenes will disappear forever.”

Ayatollah Sheikh Al Yaqubi proclaimed:

“The violence being witnessed in Iraq is not sectarian as Shiites and Sunnis had up till now lived as brothers loving one another, but largely political championed by the politicians”

Ayatollah Sheikh Bashir Al-Najafi adamantly stated

“the root of bloodshed in Iraq is not sectarian but rather political differences.”

The Secretary-General of the Commission of Muslim Scholars declared:

“What is taking place in Iraq is not a civil war; and those who claim so are indeed doing injustice to this country.”

Another declaration reinforced this stance:

“These fundamental principles apply equally to the Sunnis and the Shiites without exception..”

“it is incumbent upon all Muslims to adopt caution and vigilance against all attempts to sow division among them, break their ranks, or incite sedition, strife, and hate to corrupt their divine spiritual bonds with each other.”

“The Sunnite and Shiite scholars support all efforts aimed at achieving comprehensive national reconciliation in Iraq”

The press, of course, printed nothing of that, preferring instead their spin of civil/sectarian war. There is no civil war, no sectarian war in Iraq. There is arson. And the arsonist is Al Qaeda.
Its spectacular attacks and suicide bombs are Al Qaeda’s version of “Shock and Awe” geared to goad Shias to forget their faith and attack, Sunnis to attack back.
Which is why Al Qaeda destroyed the Golden Mosque in Samarra just as it had the Twin Towers in New York.
The Towers were known by Americans, but they were not revered by Americans. The mosque was revered by, sacred to, Shias. Which  is why Al Qaeda destroyed it. And gleefully watched as Shias erupted against Sunnis, Sunnis erupted back. Precisely as Al Qaeda had planned.
Twin Towers: Al Qaeda brought them down. Twin Powers – the US and the Soviet Union – Al Qaeda would bring them down, just as it did the Twin Buddhas in Afghanistan. September 11 was one step to defeating America; February 22 – George Washington’s birthday – was a second step, the day the Samarra mosque fell, digging a pit for America to fall again.
Al Qaeda would have the world believe Sunnis and Shias are vengeful all, enemies all to the death. No matter that tribe after Iraqi tribe is mixed, with Sunnis and Shias intermarried. No matter that Iraqi Kurds are Sunni and Shia and at peace with each other. No matter that Kurdish Sunni outnumber Iraqi Arab Sunni. No matter that Iraq’s interim president, Sunni Ghazi Al Yawar, said while president:

“We resent being called Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds the same way you resent somebody come to you and say, Are you Catholic or Protestant? Are you a Christian or a Jew? We are all Iraqis. We want to melt into the Iraqi identity. This is very important to us.

“These expressions were imported to Iraq… Iraqis are the last people to think about civil unrest. We would be the sole losers.”

“My 6-year-old nephew called me from Mosul and he said, Congratulations, uncle. So you are the president….  So you going to kill 50% of the Iraqi society? And I said, My God, how heavy the weight on our shoulders is. It’s not to rehabilitate, it’s to re-create a nation.”

Terrorists – Al Qaeda, Saddamists, Shia fanatics – create chaos, confusion, frustration so that America throws up its hands, throws down its arms, and leaves – leaving Iraq to them.
The Cop
If America had set out to conquer Iraq, it could have done so long ago, crushing Iraq as it did Japan, leveling Iraq as it did Germany. That is not what Operation Iraqi Freedom sought. It’s not what these four years have been about.
“Conquer” Iraq and it would have become to Arabs what Israel is now; but worse. An endless river of jihadists would have rushed to Iraq as they did to Afghanistan when the Soviets tried to conquer it. While others seeped into America to finish what they started on September 11.
Instead, the US set out to do what’s never been done before: simultaneously topple a tyrant, aid in reconstituting a nation, help in rebuilding that country.  The Marshall Plan didn’t begin until three years after Germany fell from a six-year war and took two more years to complete: eleven years from war to reconstruction.
Iraq has had a third as much time.
American success brought on the savagery in Iraq today: Saddam dead, Uday dead, Qusay dead, Zarqawi dead, the deck of cards shredded, constitution endorsed by an enormous majority, parliament seated and legislating on topics no other Arab country would touch, prime minister taking charge, schools and clinics and water and electricity and commerce rising.
Would-be successors see Iraq slipping out of their grasp. And so they attack.
No wonder then that Central Command General John Abizaid said to the US Senate:

“when I come to Washington I feel despair. When I’m in Iraq with my commanders, when I talk to our soldiers, when I talk to the Iraqi leadership, they are not despairing. They believe that they can move the country toward stability with our help. And I believe that.”

But no one heard that. Or this.

“when I go to the field, the soldiers are uniformly confident about their ability to face this enemy; make Iraq, Afghanistan, whatever area they happen to be operating in, better; defeat the terrorists wherever they find them, and they all understand it’s going to take time.”

Nor did anyone heard him add:

“It’s very interesting that we testified on Capitol Hill for about nine hours and we take the nine-second sound bites out that seem to get the most headlines.”

Who heard General Peter Chiarelli when he said,

 “when I was over here in my first year, the issues of sectarianism were something that were possibly below the surface, but when you talked to Iraqis, they considered themselves Iraqis. And there wasn’t a single situation that I remember in my first year where they pointed to the difference between Sunni and Shi’a when you went down into the neighborhoods.  When you went down into the neighborhoods in Baghdad, where I was the first time, you found mixed neighborhoods of Sunnis and Shi’as who had lived together for many, many years.  And quite frankly, neighbors didn’t know what the sect of each other was.”

He also noted:

“I think the Golden Mosque bombing was absolutely critical.  In my two years here, there’s not been a single more definitive event that seemed to have changed the way Iraqis looked at themselves and looked at their country.”

And Al Qaeda, Johnnie-on-the-spot, smiled.
Who heard British Lt. General Graeme Lamb, Deputy Commander of Multinational Force-Iraq – just last week – say:

“What I see right now is a huge commitment by the Iraqis, politically and militarily, to the endeavor we’re now engaged upon. In short, I still believe we can do this.”

 “I see a commitment with this government that I have not seen before. And don’t forget, they’ve only been in power for, what, some 240 days. It took you 11 years to write your Constitution, and we’re still trying to write ours.”

“I see the Sunni community looking towards to come back into the political process. I see this government, this prime minister dealing with the militias. We are judged by our actions in this world, and I do see them taking the right actions.”

Wishful thinking?
Then why do Americans – by the thousands – re-enlist and return to Iraq after they’ve served in Iraq? Why do thousands more volunteer to serve knowing they might head to Iraq? Why is Cindy Sheehan dying for attention, while her son only died to serve?
How many Americans know that, before the First Cavalry arrived, Sadr City had 61% unemployment, no electricity or drinking water and sewage two-feet deep? That 1st Cav conducted over 800 engineering projects, constructed 600 schools, hired 20,000 Iraqis, pumped millions in the economy – and that Cindy Sheehan’s son was part of that force?
That he enlisted, re-enlisted, chose to volunteer – and died – rescuing fellow troops so they could get back to rebuilding?
For the press, the answer is simple: If you build it, they’ll be bored.
Sadr, Sharpton: One.
Iraq will soon see what Prime Minister Al-Maliki already knows: Sadr needs Maliki more than Maliki needs Sadr.
Sadr heard his elders preach and scold him indirectly. He sees his factions split and knows he’s losing his political and military base. Without followers he is nothing, just as is Sharpton without cameras.
Sadr is Maliki’s Joe McCarthy. Truman urged Eisenhower to berate the senator; Ike chose to let him ruin himself by himself. He did.
Sadr will, too.
Saddam no longer rules Iraq;
but the ghost of Johnnie Cochran does: killer becomes accuser, cop gets crucified, killer walks.
Frame the debate, and you can frame anyone.

“Hurray! We’re Capitulating!”

“Hurray! We’re Capitulating!”

A 1938 alert from Der Spiegel:

This essay is an excerpt of Henryk M. Broder’s book “Hurra, Wir Kapitulieren,” (“Hurray! We’re Capitulating”) published by Wolf Jobst Siedler Verlag in 2006. The book spent a number of weeks atop the DER SPIEGEL bestseller list.

The controversy over the 12 Muhammad cartoons that were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 and led to worldwide protests and unrest among Muslims was merely a taste of what is to come, a dress rehearsal for the kinds of disputes Europe can expect to face in the future if it does not rethink its current policy of appeasement. As was the case in the 1930s, when Czechoslovakia was sacrificed in the interest of peace under the Munich Agreement — a move that ultimately did nothing to prevent World War II — Europeans today also believe that an adversary, seemingly invincible due to a preference for death over life, can be mollified by good behavior, concessions and submission.

If you have been wondering why we call them 1938 alerts, now you know.

“The West should desist from engaging in all provocations that produce feelings of debasement and humiliation,” says psychoanalyst Horst-Eberhard Richter. “We should show greater respect for the cultural identity of Muslim countries. … For Muslims, it is important to be recognized and respected as equals.” In Richter’s view, what the Muslims need is “a partnership of equals.”
But Richter neglects to describe what this partnership might look like. Does achieving such equality mean that we should set up separate sections for women on buses, as is the custom in Saudi Arabia? Should the marrying age for girls be reduced to 12, as is the case in Iran? And should death by stoning be our punishment for adultery, as Shariah law demands? What else could the West do to show its respect for the cultural identity of Islamic countries? Would it be sufficient to allow Horst-Eberhard Richter to decide whether, for example, a wet T-shirt contest in a German city rises to a level of criminal provocation that could cause the Muslim faithful in Hyderabad to feel debased and humiliated?
The discussion over which provocations WE should put an end to so that THEY do not feel upset inexorably leads to the realm of the absurd.
Should devout Jews be entitled to demand that non-Jews give up pork? And should they have the power to impose sanctions if their demands are not met? Can a Hindu in India run amok because the Dutch do not view cows as sacred beings?

And more to the point, why don’t they?

“Nowadays acts of terrorism are not committed for their own sake, but in the name of an ideology one could call Nazi-Islamism,” Romanian-American author Norman Manea told the German daily Die Welt in March 2004. The only difference, in Manea’s view, is “that this ideology invokes a religion, whereas the Nazis were mythical without being religious.” Manea believes that what he calls a “World War III” has already begun. “The Europeans are putting off the recognition — as they did in the 1930s — of the tremendous tragedy that awaits them and that has, in fact, already arrived.”

Atomic Iran Nutters with nukes unveil tomorrow’s news today:

Atomic Iran

Nutters with nukes unveil tomorrow’s news today:

From A.P. U.N. says Iran plans nuclear development

Iran expects to start installing thousands of centrifuges in an underground facility next month, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Friday. The installation would pave the way to large-scale uranium enrichment, a potential way of making nuclear weapons.

Iran is apologetic– oh, I am sorry, Iran is apoplectic.From Reuters International Atomic Energy Agency’s Iran section head must go: Tehran

Iran, cranking up a war of nerves with the West, has demanded the removal of the official running U.N. nuclear inspections, diplomats said on Friday.

From CNN ElBaradei calls for timeout on Iran nuclear program

International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohammed ElBaradei said Friday he was calling for a timeout regarding the Iranian nuclear issue, hoping that talks on the matter can resume.

A time out? And maybe if they tell us what we want to hear we can give them a lollipop.

Minneapolis Dog Fight

Minneapolis Dog Fight

It may not be a well-know fact about Muslims that they believe dogs make MUslim men religiously unclean, or at least their saliva, but as every dog owner knows, if you’ve got a dog, you’ve got the saliva. As a result, Muslims aren’t crazy about dogs. Here in Dearborn the lack of barking dogs doesn’t make Muslim neighborhoods noticeably quieter, as there are still plenty of tricked out SUVs going up and down with their bass boosters thumping, and lots of tooting horns in the streets by way of saying howdy do.

The recently-discovered initiative by Muslim cabbies at the Minneapolis-St Paul Airport who’ve been refusing passengers carrying alcohol (also disliked intensely by the Prophet) also includes cabbies saying no to passengers with dogs.

And not just little foo-foos in leopard-skin purses, but service dogs, the kind that blind folks and some other disabled people depend on to get around.

The problem with refusing to let Leader Dogs ride is that refusing to reasonably accommodate disabled persons is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and perhaps state law in Minnesota as well—and reasonable accommodations have always been understood to include allowing service dogs into banks, restaurants, buses, cabs, and onto elevators, Even before the ADA or other disabilities-rights laws, the accommodation of service dogs was widely recognized by Americans just as a commonsense mandate of decency.

So, in the spirit of having pushed the envelope on this one as far as its going to stretch, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper, (whose vision for America includes the eventual imposition of sharia law), has issued a fatwa pronouncing that, “In the case of guide dogs, the need to accommodate handicapped individuals should outweigh the discomfort Muslims might feel in having dogs in their vehicles.”

Hooper’s fatwa was a counter-fatwa to the 2006 one from Muslim American Society of Minnesota putting the Metropolitan Airport Commission on notice that Muslim taxi drivers are forbidden from carrying passengers with alcohol so as to avoid “cooperating in sin according to Islam.” (And speaking of separation of church and state, what do you want to bet there was no Christmas crèche on airport property last year?)

As it is, the Muslim cabbies have been getting away with this discrimination for several years, it taking national publicity to get the airport commissioners to bestir themsleves. All this time airport authorities could have investigated passenger complaints and suspended the licenses of cabbies known to be breaking the law, but I’m sure they hated the thought of tangling with Muslim leaders over it. It’s just easier to ignore the rights of passengers complaining about being refused cab service on airport property.

Hooper says there can be a compromise. But if by “compromise,” he means that Muslim cabbies will continue to be allowed to disobey the ADA and refuse passengers with guide dogs, I don’t think that will happen. Nor will the Muslim cabbies get themselves a class-dispensation from the ADA based upon their religious prejudices against dog saliva and wine bottles.

Being a cab driver is a licensed privilege, and cab drivers have a duty not to refuse passengers for discriminatory reasons. If you can’t hack that (pun intended), find another line of work. The airport commission has the licensing authority, and will be liable for damages in discrimination lawsuits from disabilities-rights groups if they continue licensing cabbies who intentionally discriminate. Who knows, maybe even the duty-free shops may want in on those suits, too, since they’re the ones selling the packaged spirits.

CAIR’s rare willingness to “compromise” is a sign that Hooper knows he’s on the losing side on this one. Yes, the commissioners have turned a blind eye (no pun intended) to the abuse before now, but I think what’s really driving this are the commission’s risk managers screaming about the municipality’s lawsuit exposure.

But isn’t the real lesson here that this flagrant abuse of the law tolerated for years by the airport authorities would never have been addressed if the issue hadn’t attracted national press attention?

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Iran’s Un-Theocracy

Iran’s Un-Theocracy

By Vel Nirtist

“As I observed their rancorous and loud disagreements in trying to come to a decision, I pitied the nation that was denied God’s direct guidance, and thought how blessed was my own land, in living by the laws given by God Himself.”

So wrote in a letter home an 18-century Moslem traveler who found himself in London and went to see one of the British capital’s main attractions – the proceedings of English parliament.       
I do not remember the title of the book in which I read this quote, obviously given here from memory, a book pulled from a used-bookstore shelf and opened at a random page very many years ago. But I do remember that I laughed at that gullible traveler, closed the book and put it right back on the shelf.
In the hindsight, it is clear that I laughed far too soon, because this is not a laughing matter at all. As shown by the Iran experience, and as we are now finding out in Iraq, such sentiments are still firmly rooted in the Middle East, and are the main obstacle to the spread of democracy in that part of the world.
Why are the Muslims not convinced that democracy is right for them? Because that gullible traveler was essentially right. Theocracy – which in Greek means “the rule by God” – is by far the very best possible form of governance.
Consider this: when God rules, is there a need for an army? Of course not – God provides perfect protection, and no conceivable enemy can possibly withstand His strength. Should one worry about job, or health insurance? Obviously not, when it is God who provides shelter, sustenance, and cure.
But of course, for all that to happen, God does need to be right at the helm. Humans are far from adequate substitutes to God, no matter how grand are the titles that they bear. Being called an “ayatollah” by the fellow-humans does not exempt one from that rule, does not put one in the same class with God.
Ayatollahs not only lack God’s powers to protect, feed, shelter and cure, but their knowledge of God’s views on the adequate political and social organization of society and on norms of individual conduct of its members is unreliable at best. What they pass for “knowledge of God’s will” is unproved and, for that matter, unprovable, and so is at the very best doubtful. For reasons that have to do with fundamental structure of cognition, no one, ayatollahs themselves including, can possibly know whether their rulings are in line with the will of God, or not. In fact no one, an ayatollah or not, can possibly know whether Mohammed was a prophet, or whether Koran was God’s word – nor can anyone even know which reading of the Koran conforms to Mohammed’s original intentions. What is the true Islam? There are plenty of opinions, all of them felt quite strongly – as Iraq’s Shia and Sunni Moslems remind us daily, by daily blowing each other up. Which side – if any – is right, it is impossible to know.
The West learned the hard way – from a very similar experience of her own religious wars that ravaged Europe centuries ago, that the matters of religion should better be left to the believers themselves, not decided by the state, and that the clerics should be denied the use of state-owned means of coercion for the purposes of spiritual instruction. Moslems should better start thinking in that direction too.   
Until it becomes possible to know God’s will with absolute certainty – or until we are borne from this abode beyond the great divide, to enjoy God’s paradise in the world-to-come – theocracy is impossible, and the old rule of “salus populi suprema lex” has to be followed, with the path to fulfilling the “supreme law” of the “well-being of the people” ascertainable only by the people themselves. Koran or no Koran, mankind – Iraq and Iran including – is better off having the mosque and state completely separated, and being rid of the self-deceiving, idolatrous and blasphemous Iran-style un-theocratic government by the ayatollahs who usurped people’s place at the helm – and for that matter, God’s place too. Sticking to democracy, no matter how loud, rancorous, and messy it may be, is far better than to live under the godless Iranian un-theocracy.
The pity that the eighteenth-century Muslim visitor to London felt for the merely democratic England was very much misplaced. In the final analysis, he got it utterly wrong: his native land was not ruled by God, nor was England deprived of His blessing. He should have learned from the democratic experience of the English, and brought it back to his native land. We would all have been far better off today, had he done the right thing back than.
But he did not, and the task still needs to be done. God having given this planet for mere people to rule, democracy is the way.
Vel Nirtist writes on the role of religion in fostering terrorism. He is author of “The Pitfall of Truth: Holy War, its Rationale and Folly. His blog is at http://www.rootoutterrorism.com  

A Slow Awakening to the Threat

A Slow Awakening to the Threat

“Londonistan” author on the rise of jihadist Islam in the UK

That the UK had become, by 2000, the European center for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism is not disputed. The debate over how this came to be is ongoing. A bold attempt to answer the question was made this past summer with the release of the groundbreaking book Londonistan by Melanie Phillips, an award-winning journalist at the UK’s Daily Mail. On January 16, Phillips spoke to an audience of more than 250 at a JINSA event in the Detroit suburb of West Bloomfield.

Londonistan author Melanie Phillips at JINSA event in Michigan.

Phillips said she wrote Londonistan to rouse Britain out of what she argued was a palpable state of denial over the jihadist “war” being waged against it. The story began in 1979 with the Islamic revolution in Iran. It was then that leading elements within radical Muslim circles began to believe that restoration of the Islamic caliphate was indeed within their grasp and set about achieving this goal.

Phillips informed her audience that it took less than two decades for Britain’s transformation into the “European center for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism.” Britain secured this dubious distinction via a perfect storm of two seemingly disparate developments: a severe relaxation of immigration standards in the 1980s and 1990s during which the UK received a large influx of radical Islamists and immigrants susceptible to the message of radical Islam and a widespread repudiation of the supremacy of British cultural and social norms. This systematic undermining of the values, laws and traditions that defined what it meant to be British began in the 1980s and Islamist elements moved eagerly and rapidly into the resulting social and cultural vacuum.

Phillips cited some alarming facts to illustrate the rise of fundamentalist Islam in the UK.

  • London is home to al-Qaeda’s European headquarters;
  • Sixty percent of British Muslims would like sharia law to be established in Great Britain;
  • Numerous individuals residing in the UK would face arrest in their birth countries on charges of being a threat to the state;
  • The UK’s domestic security services are currently tracking 1,600 individual terrorists who have already expressed a willingness to die for their cause;
  • The UK’s domestic security services discovered more than 30 plots to attack in Britain using dirty bombs or other radiological devices;
  • The UK’s domestic security services currently monitor 200 organizations in Britain that have been deemed terrorist threats to British citizens.

Despite these facts, many Britons have convinced themselves that terrorist attacks in the UK are a reaction to anti-Muslim bias, Phillips contended. The terrorist elements in Britain are explained as disaffected youths driven to violence by racism and poverty. Such assertions are ludicrous, Phillips declared. The London subway bombers were young, British-born men well integrated into their surrounding communities. Their economic status ranged from solidly middle class to wealthy.

The reason such Islamic extremists engage in acts of terrorism is quite simply that “terror works,” Phillips believes. This was, in fact, the reason offered by Dhiran Barot, a British citizen, upon his 2004 arrest in England for plotting with at least two other British citizens to attack financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and Washington, DC.

The state of denial evident in Britain extends to Western Europe, the United States and Israel. “Defeatism, appeasement and cultural collapse are at the root of the problem,” Phillips observed. Traditional British values have been hollowed out and in their places fundamentalist Islam took up residence. As a result, multiculturalism is seen as more legitimate than national identity and supranational organizations like the United Nations and the European Court of Human Rights are seen as more legitimate than British governing bodies. So, Phillips said, terror victims blame themselves and/or try to explain away terrorist behavior as aberrant, random acts perpetrated by “copy cats” emulating what they see going on in other parts of the world. A “1930s-style appeasement” is the result where logic is turned on its head as the British public desperately latches onto specious explanations for these horrific events.

Phillips said that many in the UK contend that once the Israel-Palestinian impasse is settled, Islamist terror will cease to exist. She described how the entirety of Britain’s non-Muslim population is divided and that even among those who acknowledge the threat posed by jihadist Islam, most prefer to stay silent. Even in “Middle Britain,” the equivalent of the American “red states,” isolationism is seen as the most effective response to jihadi terror.

Not all Muslims are involved in terrorism, Phillips took great pains to emphasize. She pointed out that many of the most troublesome Muslim immigrants to the UK were in fact expelled from their countries of origin including Saudi Arabia because of their radicalism. Phillips pointed out that the more moderate countries with Muslim majorities understand the dangers posed by jihadist elements in their population better than Britons. They recognize, for example, women who wear the veil are making a political statement that they are separate from society. While many in Great Britain wring their hands over whether or not to ban veils in certain circumstances, Tunisia and Turkey have already done so, she noted.

Phillips did find cause for hope, however. The West, including Great Britain, is waking up slowly to the threat, she believes. The watershed moment was not the infamous July 7, 2005 bombings but the foiled transatlantic plot to blow up 12 airliners en route to the United States from Britain in August 2006. Britons could no longer ignore the fact that this plan was far too sophisticated to have been hatched by disaffected youths enraged by their lot in life. The plot forced the public to confront the reality that homegrown terror attacks were not random acts of violence, but rather a war against the country. Phillips related that days after the foiled airliner plot, 38 “moderate” Muslim groups in the UK demanded that the government alter its foreign policy immediately as Britain’s Iraq and Israel policies were encouraging terrorist attacks. The British public responded to the veiled threat with deserved outrage.

Phillips, who was moved to cautious optimism by this “slow change toward sanity” on the part of her country, closed her address by recounting a December 2006 statement by Prime Minister Tony Blair: “No distinctive culture or religion supersedes our duty to be part of an integrated United Kingdom.”

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