New Age Islam Edit Bureau
December 15, 2015
• Note to world leaders: This is how to welcome refugees
By Antonia Zerbisias
• If Islam Is Un-American, so Are Christianity and Judaism
By Warren J. Blumenfeld
• Getting Real: An ISIL Strategy
By Michael Brenner
• India, Pakistan should talk specifics of peace
By Mehr Tarar
• BNP-Jamaat must explain what is Hanadar Bahini
By Sharier Khan
• Dangers of relying on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in war on ISIS
By Raghida Dergham
• Tunisia’s noble success, where many have failed
• Abdulrahman al-Rashed
By Good omen for peace
By MUHAMMAD WAQAS
• The horrors of Trumpistan
By LINDA S. HEARD
Note to world leaders: This is how to welcome refugees
By Antonia Zerbisias
14 Dec 2015
They were hardly the poor, huddled masses Canadians might have expected.
In fact, the 163 privately sponsored Syrian refugees from Lebanon who landed in Toronto late last Thursday looked less bedraggled and besieged than other Canadians do after a long overseas flight.
But then, most Canadians don't travel in government jets, don't get the red carpet treatment, don't bypass line-ups for baggage and border clearance - and don't get greeted by their recently elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
These refugees did not arrive like the tens of thousands of Vietnamese "boat people" did in the 1970s, or any other group of terror-fleeing refugees at other times in Canadian history.
"This is a wonderful night where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada's all about, but we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations," Trudeau said.
"Tonight, they step off the plane as refugees. But they walk out of this terminal as permanent residents of Canada, with social insurance numbers, with health cards, and with an opportunity to become full Canadians."
Two days later, another planeload of 161 privately sponsored Syrian refugees landing in Montreal barely made national news, let alone international headlines. That was despite a personal welcome by Philippe Couillard, the Quebec premier, John McCallum, the federal immigration minister, and Denis Coderre, Montreal's mayor.
Would the newcomers' landing at Toronto's Pearson International - which was named after another Liberal prime minister - have made world news had Trudeau not been there with his trademark baby-kisses, warm hugs and selfies?
Trudeau, the telegenic son of Pierre Trudeau, arguably Canada's most popular prime minister of the 20th century, was made for the internet age. Young, handsome and to the official manor-born, he is backed by a top-flight team of political strategists who know how to maximise media - new, old, and social - to sway public opinion and perceptions.
This would explain why the trending hashtag #WelcomeRefugees, coined by the government itself, now appears on its immigration and citizenship ministry website. (Not surprisingly, that site has been radically overhauled since the refugee-hostile Stephen Harper Conservatives' nine-year reign ended.)
And so heart-warming images of Trudeau zipping the new arrivals into bulky winter coats hit TV, tablet and telephone screens everywhere. They were splashed on the pages of the world's newspapers, from the Times of India to Britain's Independent. They were tweeted and they were facebooked. They became the perfect Christmas story.
In the US, The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times published reports and editorials accusing the US of not measuring up to its northern neighbour's compassion.
They pointed out how more than half of the states' governors want to keep their borders closed and how the leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has promised, should he win the White House, to "shut down" Muslim immigration and register all US-based Muslims.
Anti-refugee rhetoric in the US
Indeed, the anti-refugee rhetoric in the US has reached such a hysterical level that more than one-third of all Americans approve of Trump's proposed ban. One armed vigilante-type group known as the "Three Percenters" even vows to "interfere" with Muslims "threatening to take over" the US.
"…Canada's generosity - and Mr Trudeau's personal warmth and leadership - can serve as a beacon for others," a New York Times editorial headlined Canada's Warm Embrace of Refugees maintained. "[I]t puts to shame the callous and irresponsible behaviour of the American governors and presidential candidates who have argued that the United States, for the sake of its security, must shut its doors to all Syrian refugees."
Others were not so genteel.
"US politics right now feels like a clown show of ventriloquised garbage bags yelling dangerous nonsense about Muslims and the Second Amendment," the men's magazine GQ taunted. "But just north of the border ... Trudeau is showing just how far leadership traits like compassion and open-mindedness can go toward endearing yourself to your countrymen. Who would have thought?"
Right now, Trudeau's approval ratings stand at 57 percent, higher than when his Liberal party swept to power on October 19. Nearly three-quarters of all Canadians believe he has the makings of a good leader.
He clearly has an effect. Canadian business has delivered millions in sponsorships, housing, furnishings and even mobile phones. Church and community groups, as well as individuals, have pledged to sponsor and support one newcomer. One chief executive is personally committed to bringing in 50 families at a cost of more than $1m.
Judging by the reception for the first wave of refugees, largely Armenian-Syrian families with relatives in the country, Canadians who had concerns about security, especially following last month's terrorist attacks in Paris, will be reassured.
They're already coming around.
In mid-November, polls showed that opposition to Trudeau's refugee resettlement plan - 25,000 are expect to arrive by the end of February 2016 - was as high as 60 percent. Last week, two days before the first planeload, Canadians were split, with those saying they welcome refugees slightly outnumbering those who would not.
True, other polls show that Canadians are worried that the influx will strain the already hard-pressed healthcare system as well as other social services. This nation of immigrants and refugees also feels that Syrian refugees are getting preferential treatment over other groups.
But their faith and pride in their country has been restored. As Trudeau himself has repeatedly proclaimed, "Canada is back."
Canadians, new and old, have left the dark Harper decade behind and are once again charting a familiar course, one where the world's weary and war-sick are welcomed.
Antonia Zerbisias is an award-winning Canadian journalist. She has been a reporter and TV host for the Toronto Star, the CBC, as well as the Montreal correspondent for Variety trade paper.
If Islam Is Un-American, so Are Christianity and Judaism
By Warren J. Blumenfeld
"[I am] calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what's going on." -- Donald J. Trump
Though controversial and clearly unconstitutional, Trump has tapped into a sentiment held by 76 percent of the Republican electorate (56 percent overall by the "general public" regardless of party affiliation) that the religion of Islam, and by association Muslims who adhere to its tenets, is "incompatible with American values and way of life." In other words, Islam is un-American. The same November 2015 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 43 percent of registered Democrats believe this as well.
While the First Amendment of our Constitution grants the important freedoms of speech and religion (as well as the freedoms of the press, to assemble, and to petition of the government for redress of grievances), therefore granting religious denominations the rights to establish and preach doctrine no matter how reasonable or deplorable, what does it take for us to declare some doctrine or entire denominations as "un-American"?
Judaism and Christianity un-American?
On Justified Murder:
Though our Executive, Legislative, and Judicial systems supposedly ban and punish unjustifiable homicide, a number of holy religious texts discount this. Within Judaism for example:
Jewish Bible ("Old Testament") Exodus 21: 15 & 17: And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
(JB) Exodus 31: 15: For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.
The United States recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of the passage of its monumental Thirteenth Amendment ratified by the states on December 6, 1865, abolishing slavery. In addition, ratified on July 9, 1868, Section I of the Fourteenth Amendment states:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
However, both the Jewish Bible and the Christian Testaments clearly condone the practice of slavery in numerous passages, for example:
(JB): Exodus 20: 20-21: When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner's property.
Christian Testaments (CT) Ephesians 6:5-6: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
Though women have been and continue in many instances to be treated as second- and even third-class citizens in the United States, legislators have passed laws and other mandates to ensure greater equality between the sexes. For example, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1920, granted women the legal right of voting. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employment discrimination by private employers, employment agencies, and unions based on race, sex, and other grounds. And Title IX of this Act bars discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving federal funding.
In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11375 expanding affirmative action policies of 1965 to cover discrimination based on sex. And in 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of the federal government expanded workers' right to sue for pay discrimination and relaxed the statute of limitations on these suits for women and men.
Within our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, released July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson declared that "all men [meaning people] are created equal."
So, with these noble sentiments and non-discrimination legislation protecting the rights of and equality between the sexes, why would Judaism and Christianity not be declared "un-American"?:
(JB) Numbers 5: 12- : Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If a man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected ...or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure--then he is to take his wife to the priest.
(CT) 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, 37: "As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church...what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord."
On LGBTQ People:
In the 1996 ruling in Romer v. Evans, the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional Ballot Amendment 2 of the Colorado state Constitution, which prevented recognizing homosexuals as a protected class in non-discrimination statutes. In addition, the 2003 Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, legalized same-sex sexuality in every state in the union.
The 2013 United States v. Windsor decision found the 1996 so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" unconstitutional. Soon thereafter, in Obergefell, et al v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et al, the Supreme Court, on June 26, 2015, in 5-4 decision, legalized marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
But Jewish and Christian religious texts state, in part:
(JB) In Genesis 19: 1-25, the story of the destruction of Sodom is frequently cited to justify condemnations of homosexuality.
(JB) Leviticus 18: 22: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.
(CT) Romans 1: 26-27: In consequence, God has given them up to shameful passions. Their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural. And likewise also the men, giving up natural relations with women, burn with lust for one another; males behave indecently with males, and are paid in their own persons the fitting wage [death] of such perversion.
The Roman Catholic Church Catechism 2357 related to same-sex sexuality states:
"Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are gravely disordered. They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of love [i.e., children]. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."
According to the Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, its doctrine-enforcing agency:
Transgender status "reveals in a public way an attitude opposite to the moral imperative of solving the problem of sexual identity according to the truth of one's own sexuality. Therefore it is evident that this person does not possess the requirement of leading a life according to the faith and in the position of godfather and is therefore unable to be admitted to the position of godfather or godmother."
On the Jews in the Christian Testaments:
1 Thessalonians 2:15-16: "[T]he Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out, the Jews who are heedless of God's will and enemies of their fellow man....All this time they have been making up the full measure of their guilt, and now retribution has overtaken the good of all."
John 8: 44: And Jesus said: "If God were your father, you would love me...[but] your [the Jews] father is the devil and you choose to carry out your father's desires."
[Not a] Conclusion:
For Donald Trump or anyone else to single out the negative, destructive, and, yes, evil passages of the Quran (or how some sects or cults within Islam co-opt, distort, and attempt to hijack the overall messages) without doing so as well with the holy books of Judaism and Christianity demonstrates a hierarchical double standard that alienates and separates people from differing religious traditions, and increases the changes not only for misunderstanding, but violence as well.
We must, therefore, reject the stereotyping, scapegoating, and fear-mongering by demagogues for their own benefit and advancement against Islam and against any other religion.
Getting Real: An ISIL Strategy
By Michael Brenner
Any serious attempt to formulate a strategy for addressing the multifaceted crisis we confront in the Middle East should begin with acknowledging some unpleasant facts of life. The first is that neither willpower nor faith alone will alter the incontrovertible realities of this daunting situation.
Washington has been the main contributor to the emergence of a singularly complex challenge that threatens our interests and the stability of the region. We only compound our culpability while reducing the chances of finding a tolerable way out of the jam if we remain addicted to fanciful thinking. The Obama administration is in thrall to a set of totally unrealistic propositions that form a make-believe world which bears no relation to reality.
So forget about transmogrifying al-Nusra/al-Qaeda into mere expressions of genuine Sunni grievances; forget about seeing it as the instrument for militarily crushing ISIL just because there is nobody else willing or able to a job America won't take on; forget about expectations of Saudi Arabia and the Gulfies giving priority to defeating the various Salafist groups rather than to the removal the Alawite regime in Damascus; forget about cutting ISIL's financial lifeline without destroying the infrastructure of their oil trade and getting Turkey to cease and desist their complicity in sustaining it; forget about "isolating" the Russians and denying them a major role in determining Syria's future by calling Putin dirty names and reciting the number of worthless partners in Obama's ersatz coalition; forget about relying on phantom Syrian rebel armies devoted to tolerance and democracy that don't exist except in the escapist visions of Washington's strategic non-thinkers; forget about establishing a no-fly buffer zone in northern Syria to satisfy Erdogan's ambition to keep open his supply line to al-Nusra and his lucrative commercial dealings with ISIL - it contradicts our purpose and, in any case, would not be tolerated by Russia; and forget about embracing as an article of faith that it is within the power of the United States to shape the Middle East to its own specifications while contesting a legitimate place for Iran, Russia, Yemenese Houthis and anyone else who doesn't hew the Saudi-Israeli-Erdogan line which Washington has endorsed.
After clearing the decks of the shards from punctured delusions, the time has come to accept that there is a lot of hard, dirty work ahead - with no guarantee of success. America is not smiled upon by some benevolent deity who protects it from the consequences of its arrogance and obtuseness. Barack Obama dearly wishes for some deus ex machina to relieve him of the pain and suffering he has earned by his own failings. His entourage of sycophants and companions in self-delusion encourage the President to believe that it will arrive. It won't. At the diplomatic plane, he will have to muster what little courage he possesses to confront the reckless royals of the new Salman dynasty in Riyadh and the aspiring Caliph in Ankara and the ever more repressive as well as arrogant Prime Minister of Israel. All three are working at cross purposes to any reasonable and intelligent strategy when not in direct contradiction to it. In addition, he will have to find it within himself to treat with a Vladimir Putin who is at least as smart as he is and has a far more dexterous political mind.
Finally, there are certain givens that the parameters for devising and implementing a serious strategy. First, Iraq cannot be knit back together as a unitary state. At best, Kurdistan has to be accorded autonomy within a confederal structure. Where the boundaries of such a political entity are drawn, a matter that includes the question of incorporating any portion of Kurdish Syria, will be open to negotiation. The overwhelming Sunni regions of Iraq also will have to be accorded some measure of political autonomy along with an equitable revenue-sharing arrangement between it and the central government in Baghdad. Those two givens may be in conflict since the Kurdish government in Erbil and the Sunni Arabs (with Turkey's sympathies) both have their eyes cast on Mosul. That points to a related given: Erdogan's dispatch of Turkish forces into the Mosul region without permission of the al-Abadi government in Baghdad foretells his ambition of establishing a presence and playing the role of arbiter for his own purposes.
Second, a quasi-partition of Syria would be far harder for demographic reasons and because the divisions are less clear-cut insofar as many Sunnis and all the minorities prefer a non-sectarian regime to living (if permitted) as marginal in sectarian defined provinces. It follows that no presumption should be made that partition is the only viable option for the long-term.
Third, ISIL must be militarily defeated and its pseudo-state apparatus uprooted. No measure of stability can be achieved so long as that fanatical movement is capable of taking concerted action against other religious or political formations. Its very being is predicated on exclusiveness. Its core ambition is to subordinate, suppress and dominate all rivals. Therefore, mustering the force requisite for neutralizing ISIl is an absolute precondition for a restoration of an approximation to normalcy. By implication, the United States cannot in principle exclude from a de facto alliance any party that can make a substantial contribution that such a military effort - unless it is prepared to deploy a 100,000 or so American troops and maintain them in Syria indefinitely. That means fashioning some working relationship with Russia, the Syrian National Army, the various Kurdish forces and -in Iraq - with the Hashed Shi'ite militias. Logically, there is no alternative.
1. Military success on the ground must occur prior to a political agreement. Unless and until ISIL and al-Nusra & Assoc. (e.g. Ahrar al-Sham) are defeated (or at least isolated) it will be impossible to reach agreement on the framework for a post-conflict political settlement. The Vienna peace talks involve only external parties. They have differing interpretations of the situation, different goals and different relationships with the main protagonists. Above all, they do not speak for those latter parties. Their influence is potential; but that potential depends on a drastic narrowing of their divergent perspectives which, in turn, will only occur when the constellation of fighting forces tips decisively in one direction or another.
In any event, those talks are likely to come to an abrupt halt. Saudi Arabia is pressing hard to have Ansar al-Sham designated a "moderate" opposition force eligible to participate in deliberations on Syria's political future. Washington seems inclined to go along - since it already gives al-Nusra/al-Qaeda a free pass as a non-terrorist group. Were that to occur, there is probable that Russia would refuse to proceed on those terms. Among Ahrar al-Sham's features is its welcome into its ranks of fighters from Chechen, Dagestan, and Uzbekistan - that is to say, the very people the Kremlin worries most about.
2. The military campaign should focus first on al-Nusra & Assoc. This is so for a number of reasons. Their forces are more concentrated in a restricted geographical area. That is one. Their arsenal of weapons does not include the armor that ISIL "acquired" from the Iraqi National Army. That is two. Most important, there is an effective opposition force in a position to crush them: the Russian coordination R+6 which includes the Syrian National Army, Hezbullah, Iranian elements and formidable Russian airpower (perhaps supplemented by their commando units - the Spetsnaz). That is three.
Finally, decisive defeat of al-Nusra & Assoc, means taking Turkey out of the military dimension of the game. Al-Nusra & Assoc. is Erdogan's primary instrument for fulfilling his ambitions of unseating Assad and establishing a Turkish zone of control in northern Syria. Once that proxy is eliminated, he is left with only the more tenuous ISIL link. That latter entity is less susceptible to Turkish direction. The economic ties as manifest in their joint oil ventures are mainly to ISIL's political advantage - not Turkey's. Therefore, it is hardly likely that Erdogan will fall back on ISIL as his last best hope to keep alive his ambitious plans - certainly not in the face of the external pressures that could be brought to bear on him and a concentrated assault on oil infrastructure and transport.
3. Drying up the tributary inflow of fighters via Turkey would be most critical in denying ISIl the experienced Chechens, Uighurs and Uzbeks whom Turkey has been escorting into Syria. Thy count far more than the kids from Bradford, St. Denis and Sydney.
4. Successful implementation of these first two steps will isolate ISIL geographically, militarily and diplomatically. That would discourage the KSA, Qatar, et al from continuing their heavy financial and political investment in them. Isolation would be achieved through a combination of cutting external lines of support and directing R +6 against ISIL positions in central Syria. Pressure could be increased by simultaneously moves by the Kurds (however geographically limited), the Hashed, whatever competent forces the Baghdad government can muster in Anbar - all in combination with a serious American air campaign of the kind we have not as yet seen. ISIL forces will be stressed and stretched with mobility reduced by the need to cover multiple fronts and by the air interdiction of troop movements.
A series of setbacks will do much to break ISIL's momentum - undercutting its image as an irresistible force and spearhead of a Salafist conquest. That psychological aspect of the movement's success is significant in terms of morale and in terms of recruits and in terms of its Gulf financiers' readiness to double down on their risky bets. The other proposed steps to dry up the inflow of foreign fighters and recruits would both put ISIL on short rations, increasing the odds on its suffering battlefield losses, and reinforce the impact of those defeats once they register.
An additional psychological weapon could be destruction of Raqqa's power plants. Turning out the lights could literally as well as figuratively dim ISIL's lights. A blacked-out capital does not conform to the impression of a winner riding an irresistible wave. It is not easy to posture as the Mahdi while groping about in the dark - and even during daytime under black clouds of smoke from smoldering oil fires. There may be some price to pay in causing hardship for the city's captive Sunni population. It is by no means evident, though, that the net effect would be to turn them into avid adherents to ISIL given all their other grievances. Elsewhere in the country, those empathetic pains would be overshadowed by the afflictions of the millions who have suffered personally far greater suffering.
The Political Dimension
1. As to Iraq, there is little that the United States can do to reconstitute an unitary Iraqi state. It is up to the Iraqis to find their way to that measure of reconciliation among sectarian/ethnic groups that will permit stable and effective governmental structures of a confederal kind to put down roots. The main contribution that could be made by the two outside powers, Iran and the United States, is to avoid working at cross purposes. That depends on the readiness of Tehran and Washington to talk candidly about a modus vivendi that will serve both parties' interest. Success in doing so depends on two things: First is the establishment of a modicum of trust. Its sine qua non is bringing a halt to defamatory rhetoric. It serves the interests of neither side - except to score a few points with angry domestic constituencies. The second is to dampen the wider sectarian war that is inflaming local conflicts across the Middle East.
The Obama administration, through a number of witless incremental actions, in effect has chosen the Sunni side. That is reckless and counter-productive. It needs to reverse course. That means: withdrawing backing for the Saudi campaign in Yemen. Impress on the current impetuous leadership of the royal family that the United States is not writing any blank checks in support of its ambition to become kingpin of the Gulf if not the entire Arab world. That entails driving home the fundamental truth that Saudi Arabia needs the U.S. much more than the United States needs Saudi Arabia. It means further Washington's committing itself to a low-key diplomatic effort aimed at facilitating co-existence between the Sunni states of the Gulf and Iran.
2. As to Syria, the best one can aim for is a gradual process of normalization - once al-Nusra & Assoc. has been eliminated as an organized force and ISIL has been reduced in terms of both capability and area of control. Low-grade guerrilla activity will continue, of course, for some indefinite period and some provision must be made for forces that can handle it.
Once the military situation is stabilized to the point where fighting is limited to the Northeast, the opportunity opens for moving toward a permanent political settlement. As this phase, external parties have a significant role to play. It would involve a collective effort to refrain from fomenting factions and instead encouraging them to reach a mutually acceptable outcome. The particulars should be left mainly to the Syrians. The United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others can best serve the cause of peace and stability by acting as facilitators, honest brokers and underwriters.
A prior condition for a settlement, or even the opening of serious talks, is Assad's removal from office. That should be kept separate from an abdication of the entire present regime - a step that is a recipe for chaos. Putin has stressed that Assad and his regime are not identical while voicing a preference for keeping him in office for the time-being. However, that probably is unworkable. Selling the idea of cutting Assad loose to the Iranians will require Russia taking the lead in bringing Tehran around. That would be roughly analogous to the role it played is resolving some of the last stumbling blocks to the nuclear accord.
The strategic plan outlined here, or any similar plan along these lines, faces long odds. That is obvious. Looked at from the American perspective, the concern that immediately jumps to mind are the formidable requirements it places on imaginative thinking, comprehensive planning, diplomatic skill and political fortitude. Frankly, none of these ingredients is evident in adequate amounts in the Obama administration.
The shortfall is apparent at all levels. The President himself never has demonstrated the leadership qualities called for - especially when faced with the intense opposition that embarking on such an approach would engender. To state it bluntly, he lacks the fortitude, the conviction and the talent to move the country onto such an ambitious course which deviates from the path he himself his marked out as the only sensible one - however lost we have become as a result. Moreover, Barack Obama shows increasing signs of being disengaged. His mind and feelings seem to be drifting into post-Presidency mode. He's coasting. That disposition is encouraged by his White House confidantes and reinforced by his lackluster foreign policy team (to be generous) which - by any reasonable standard - is not up to so daunting an undertaking as suggested here.
Were a strategy such as presented here to largely achieve its goal, would that mean an end to violent jihadist Islam and terrorism? No - of course not. Everything won't be coming up roses. There is a very big difference, though, between what we confront now and an ISIL that's been cut down to size. Today we have a threat from a proto-state propagating a fanatical, violent creed that has won adherents around the world. That is different by several orders of magnitude from a shadowy rump network that operates without the tangible, if veiled backing, of supporters with deep pockets.
Ultimately, the greater challenge is the still growing influence of Wahhabism in the Islamic world. Its wellspring, promoter and paymaster is Saudi Arabia - along with like-minded persons elsewhere in the Gulf. This is the problem that must be addressed frontally if the tide of Islamic terrorism is to ebb. At present, the United States is doing absolutely nothing to pressure those whose hands are on the helm.
India, Pakistan should talk specifics of peace
By Mehr Tarar
December 15, 2015
Why bicker on such a basic reality that is in the good of all involved?
Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj's two-day visit to Pakistan to attend the Heart of Asia conference last week made many a headline. What should be looked at as a normal governmental practice in any other country was heralded as a major diplomatic breakthrough. And that is the face of the relationship, or lack there of, between the two apparently hostile neighbours, Pakistan and India. Much is to be attained before the two are on cordial terms, and to talk about friendship is not merely utopian but fallacious in the context of the status quo. There is no denying the significance of one-step-at-a-time, as long as the goal is clear: long-term peace. The rest is details that are to be taken care of one by one.
Amidst the noise of naysayers, jingoistic hardliners, and hate-happy detractors, Swaraj made the brief Delhi-to-Islamabad journey, shook hands with Pakistan's Advisor for Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, held a talk with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and returned after the two sides issued a positive joint statement. After the National Security Advisor meeting in Bangkok earlier this month, which was kept away from the glare of TV cameras, and blare of hyper-nationalists, the joint statement is a welcome development. Let us just call it the much-needed thaw in the almost-icy relationship between Pakistan and India, hoping it would help dismantle the huge wall that is keeping not just the aggressive elements out but also the peace-seekers. It is no rocket science that national foreign policies cannot be formed simply as an endorsement of domestic political point-scoring, shortsighted knee-jerk reactions and vested interests of isolationist lobbies. The foreign policy of Pakistan and that of India must include an agenda of resolving of issues in the context of national and regional stability. Why bicker on such a basic reality that is in the good of all involved?
While Pakistan starts and ends at the Kashmir dispute, India seeks to distance itself from the core issue, bringing to fore the immediacy of resolving the threat of terror that it alleges is perpetrated by the Pakistani establishment, rogue elements of Pakistani establishment, or the non-sate actors enabled by the Pakistani establishment. Mainstream media rings loud with the mostly rhetorical statements of generally disgruntled politicians, analysts, and anchors, whereas social media becomes a ground for mud-wrestling, where the real issue is buried under blame-throwing, epithet-tossing, and adjectivising the other side. Amidst demonisation "Moody-is-a-terrorist" (no idea why many Pakistani analysts/anchors add an extra O to a tiny name), and "Pakistan-is-a-terrorist-state", important factors like pragmatism, tolerance, and a desire to break the deadlock look for the exit-mechanism, like teetotalers in a noisy bar. Perseverance commands success, and nowhere does this Aitchison College motto makes more sense than when it comes to the tug-of-war between sabre-rattlers and peace-seekers between Pakistan and India.
The peace process between Pakistan and India must be more than clichés, and it must be more than piecemeal efforts put into place every few months of open hostility, and long sulking, accompanied by covert and blatant threats. Depends on which side you happen to be. As Pakistan and India sit down to start that mother of all bilateral dialogues, now renamed Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, let us hope the sky would not be expected to be reached in the first meeting. A system of sustainable dialogue must commence, which strengthened by implementation of points agreed upon by both sides, may become the bedrock of future diplomatic and governmental framework of the two countries. All issues are resolvable: from Kashmir to that of water; respecting the Line of Control; cessation of firing at the working boundary; formation of mechanism to address the issue of terrorism. India could seriously address the Pakistan-allegation of Indian-funded-sponsored mayhem in Balochistan, and Pakistan could ensure the full and fair trial of the alleged perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. India could exercise restraint when it came to blaming Pakistan for every terror attack in India, and Pakistan could do the same. A joint system of intelligence-sharing, investigation, evidence-gathering and judicial penalisation could be another goal to tackle the mammoth issue of terrorism that affects not only Pakistan and India, but destablises the entire region.
It is time to walk the talk. Mere words are not going to suffice. Pakistan must move forward in its agenda of prosperity and peace, and there would no tangible gains if promises, words, and plans are not translated into action. As India is involved in its global rebranding, it is imperative for its policy-makers to repackage its stance vis-à-vis Pakistan, with whom it has a history of war and perpetual hostility. The inevitability and indispensability of dialogue must be taken as the sign to move forward. Without dialogue, there would be no fruitful action, and without action, there would be no change in an environment of mistrust and phobia that becomes conducive for anti-peace activities. As icy silence is replaced by sustained dialogue, followed by tangible resolving of issues; there is no way Pakistan and India cannot co-exist as cordial neighbours. It is time to practise another famous Aitchison College motto: facta non verba (deeds not words). The road is perilous, the history murky, the overtures repetitive, but slow and steady, there is no way Pakistan and India would not look at one another differently. Peaceful, positive, pragmatic.
Mehr Tarar is a columnist based in Lahore
BNP-Jamaat must explain what is Hanadar Bahini
By Sharier Khan
December 14, 2015
On Sunday, the BNP, Jatiya Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh issued their statements on the occasion of Martyred Intellectuals Day today without naming the Pakistani army and their local collaborators who spearheaded the killing of the intellectuals.
In her statement BNP chief Khaleda Zia said the intellectuals were killed by the “Hanadar Bahini” (occupation forces) and their collaborators.
Jatiya Party chief and leader of the Opposition in parliament Raushan Ershad also mentioned Hanadar Bahini.
The Jamaat acting secretary general in his statement said the entire nation remembers with due respects the intellectuals who embraced martyrdom on December 14 —without mentioning who killed them or why.
For BNP and Jamaat, shying away from mentioning Pakistani forces is nothing new. But we would like to know why BNP, Jamaat and JP feel shy about pinpointing who the killers were and who their collaborators were.
What could be the reason? Is it that they feel mentioning Pakistan’s name or its collaborators—the Razakars, Al Badr and Al Shams—would be improper?
Is it possible that mentioning Pakistan’s name might offend Pakistan and BNP, Jamaat and JP do not want to ‘hurt’ the feelings of their friendly nation?
Is it possible that they believe the Pakistani army or the collaborators were not involved in the killings?
Or is it possible that BNP, Jamaat and JP just want to wash off our hands from the history and say: let’s forget the past and let’s look at the future. No point in bringing the murky part of history.
May be the BNP, Jamaat and JP believe all of the above. But then they must explain why they want to pay homage to the martyred intellectuals. If they must pay their homage then they must recognise who killed them and why they were killed. They must also explain who are these ‘Hanadar Bahini’? Until then, their homage means nothing to this nation because it’s shrouded in self-contradiction, deceit and greyness.
When the Pakistani forces killed our people—they did not feel shy. And today Pakistan still arrogantly denies committing atrocities during the 1971 war.
It’s sad to see that a major party like BNP is harping the tune of Pakistan. By saying Hanader Bahini once again, BNP, JP and Jamaat are denying the country’s history.
The word “Hanadar Bahini” was ironically introduced in the country by general Ziaur Rahman, a sector commander in the war of liberation who rose to power following the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975.
Though a freedom fighter himself—Ziaur Rahman—who took over presidency in 1977—changed the reference of Pakistani forces and Razakars or Al-Badrs from all occasions, news and even text books. The word Hanadar Bahini replaced the Pakistani forces.
Ziaur Rahman also reinstated Razakars into the mainstream politics and brought them into his cabinet; lifted ban on Jamaat-e-Islam’s politics; built children’s park in the place where Pakistani forces surrendered to Indian forces in the Suhrawardi Udyan; erased records of rape victims who were rehabilitated after independence and take many other measures that would only make Pakistan happy.
It was his twisted politics that made pro-liberation forces look guilty and pro-Pakistani forces heroes.
But times have changed. Replacing “Pakistani forces” with “Hanadar Bahini” did not change the history—but has left Ziaur Rahman a controversial freedom fighter today. We all know who the Hanadar Bahini was.
Our politicians must realise that the treacherous politicians who still regret the birth of Bangladesh have no future in this country. The people of this country are proud of its history and know who killed the intellectuals; the roles of Razakars or Al-Badr and they do not like political parties who still feels shy about the country’s history.
The BNP must be black and white on this issue. And Jamaat could redefine its politics by admitting role of its leaders in killing the intellectuals and people of this country. Or else these parties themselves will rapidly become history in this country.
Dangers of relying on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in war on ISIS
By Raghida Dergham
Monday, 14 December 2015
If the major world powers, especially the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, do not admit to their role in creating the ISIS phenomenon, their promise to fight this group cannot be taken seriously. If these countries continue to be in denial about what it will really take to eliminate ISIS, in terms of its regional alliances, recruitment capacity, and mobilization of Sunni Arabs, then Shia Arabs will find themselves as bait in a trap. The effort to tackle ISIS will thus remain purely Machiavellian and historically shortsighted, and will increase the risk of retaliation against these countries as ISIS grows and metastasizes.
Terror recently struck in California after Paris, and could strike soon in London, Moscow, or even Beijing and Washington if the five permanent Security Council members do not stop burying their heads in the sand and pretend they are innocent of the sin of creating ISIS and similar organizations.
Many Arab countries are also responsible - together with Iran, Turkey, Israel, Pakistan and others - for the creation of terror groups, beginning with al-Qaeda born out of the international partnership that fostered Islamic fundamentalism in the fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
The U.S. role
No one is innocent of the creation of jihadist groups and using them as tools for various agendas. And all sides are fully aware of what it would take to defeat ISIS and its ilk.
The problem is that all major players, regionally and internationally, are comfortable as long as the war is being fought away from their cities – over “there”, in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
The problem is that all players seem uninterested in developing timetables and practical strategies with specific goals for varying reasons.
Some admission of error is useful here to avoid worse outcomes. However, I address today specifically the U.S. role, given the intensifying debate that seems to ignore the background and implications of successive U.S. entanglements.
Trump’s infinite arrogance
The Donald Trump phenomenon is astonishing, not least because of his infinite arrogance and his unnatural popularity. Trump, despite repeatedly crossing the line and engaging in blunt incitement, continues to lead Republican presidential nomination polls.
His popularity stems mainly from the resentment felt by broad segments of the American people towards the political establishment, beginning with Democratic President Barack Obama and presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who has been accused alongside the Bush family of trying to create a “political dynasty”.
Yet the fear among Americans of a repetition of the 9/11 attacks is the main issue that Trump seems to be exploiting to mobilize U.S. public opinion and rally it behind him against “Islamic terrorism”.
The terrorist attack by a Muslim couple in San Bernardino was the first major terror attack on U.S. soil since al-Qaeda attacked New York and Washington 14 years ago. Donald Trump saw this as an opportunity not to be missed, and called for a full ban on the entry of Muslims to the United States. Before he made this call, the billionaire, despite having longstanding financial ties to Arab and Muslim business people, had also incited against Muslims by claiming many in New Jersey celebrated when 9/11 struck.
Regardless of whether this ambitious man is a dangerous clown, a gifted actor, or a serious presidential candidate, the fact that a large segment of Republicans enthusiastically supports him is proof of the naivety and denial of many Americans. History did not start with Trump, and time will eventually tell how dangerous the roles played by the U.S. were in creating Islamic fundamentalism and inciting Sunni-Shia strife from the late 1970s to the present day.
The Carter, Reagan years
The peaceful President and Nobel Prize-laureate Jimmy Carter served one term in the White House, from 1977 to 1981. Under his tenure, the Iranian revolution of 1979 took place giving birth to the Islamic Republic ruled by Shia mullahs led by Ayatollah Khomeini, who toppled the Shah of Iran. During Carter’s presidency, Afghanistan was also invaded by the Soviet Union.
Republican President Ronald Reagan then launched several demarches towards Tehran, most notably through the so-called Contra-Iran deal/scandal. But most prominently, Reagan mobilized and trained jihadists using the CIA, in collaboration with Pakistan and various Arab countries against “atheist communism”, ultimately leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union after its defeat in Afghanistan. But after the jihadists completed their mission, Washington abandoned them – even though they had thought they were allies of the United States. And thus al-Qaeda was born.
Under Reagan (1981-1989), the Iraq-Iran war raged and escalated, with the U.S. supporting the late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The U.S. deliberately inflamed a sectarian conflict between the Sunni-led regime in Iraq and the Shia-led regime in Iran. Officially, Washington backed Iraq while unofficially courting the mullahs in Tehran.
From Bush to Clinton
Then under George Bush (1989-1993), the second Gulf War erupted when Saddam invaded Kuwait – some say with a nudge from the U.S. ambassador on the eve of his adventure in 1990.
Under the Democratic President Bill Clinton (1993-2000), Washington officially turned against its former ally and continued to woo Iran.
President George W. Bush entered the White House in 2001 and left in 2009, after waging two wars, which he said were in retaliation for 9/11. But instead of focusing on al-Qaeda, the Bush administration decided to get rid of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq on grounds that turned out to be falsified. What George W. Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan amounted to getting rid of the enemies of the mullahs in Tehran – and giving them Iraq on a platter of gold.
Thus Washington compensated Tehran for its actions during the Iraq-Iran war, this time playing the Shia card as opposed to the Sunni card it played in favor of Saddam Hussein.
Yet one of the most far-reaching things Bush did was to dismantle the Iraqi army under the pretext of de-Baathification. This unleashed Shia retaliation against the Sunni-led tyranny of Saddam Hussein. This led to the formation of the nucleus of what later became ISIS, and Saddam’s henchmen are probably part of the senior leadership of the radical Sunni group.
Barack Obama’s turn
The Democrat Barack Obama continued the Republican George W. Bush started in terms of the détente with Iran. They both turned a blind eye to the fact that the mullah-led regime was the first theocracy in the region. Barack Obama turned a blind eye to all Iranian violations in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. He then recognized the legitimacy of the mullahs’ regime, recognized Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment, and pledged not to intervene in Iranian internal affairs under any circumstances, as well as acknowledging a regional role for the mullahs beyond the borders of their state. All this certainly inflamed Sunni-Shia strife, especially since Iran is fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad in Syria and supporting Shia militias in Iraq.
The purpose of this background is to recall the history of U.S. administrations in the Middle East and with Muslims in general, and not to exonerate Muslims or Arabs from the terror attacks of 9/11 and the terror of al-Qaeda and ISIS. The purpose is to warn against papering-over history and denying U.S. responsibility in creating Sunni and Shia fundamentalism and terrorism.
Sunni Arabs’ role
The continuous fueling of Sunni-Shia strife will backfire on Iranian and Arab Shias, no matter how much Iran and its allies seem reassured by the partnership with the U.S.. For one thing, it will lead to more Sunni terrorism against the U.S.-Russian-Iranian alliance.
It follows that defeating ISIS requires rallying Sunni Arabs against it. However, this is impossible for Arab leaders to achieve, as long as the Sunnis feel that their marginalization in their countries is backed by the U.S., and that they are secondary to the de-facto alliances between Washington and Tehran, and Moscow and Tehran.
No victory can be achieved by allying with the Shia militias and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. No victory can be achieved against Sunni terrorism without Sunni Arabs.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter seemed very weak as he faced the interrogation Senate committee chaired by Senator John McCain. His answers were superficial and vague, even as he offered U.S. support in the Battle of Ramadi to the Iraqi government. Carter challenged the Gulf states, the official U.S. allies in the international coalition, by saying that Iran is militarily present on the ground, and while they were not.
That was a recognition that U.S. policy is not, as was thought, random. It’s well thought out, which is dangerous.
The problem is that Washington is fully aware of the urgent need for the Sunni element in the partnership against ISIS, but chooses not to do what is needed to convince the necessary partners to join that partnership.
What Washington needs to think about it is to stop propping up the Islamic Republic of Iran to assume a leadership position in the Arab Middle East. By doing so, the U.S. is implicating Iranian and Arab Shias inadvertently, if not deliberately. It is paving the way for terrorism to come to the U.S., no matter how unlikely this may seem today.
Iran is an ancient country with a historic and permanent place in the Middle East map and status. The problem is that Iran is a theocracy being encouraged by the East and the West, which are blessing the exportation of its model to the Arab countries while considering it an alternative partner to the truly indispensable partner if defeating ISIS is indeed a serious goal.
Some acknowledgment of the facts is necessary, and the time has come to refrain from papering over history no matter how comfortable this may be.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on Dec. 11, 2015 and translated by Karim Traboulsi.
Raghida Dergham is Columnist, Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, and New York Bureau Chief for the London-based Al Hayat newspaper since 1989. She is dean of the international media at the United Nations. Dergham is Founder and Executive Chairman of Beirut Institute, an indigenous, independent, inter-generational think tank for the Arab region with a global reach. An authority on strategic international relations, Dergham is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and an Honorary Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association. She served on the International Media Council of the World Economic Forum, and is a member of the Development Advisory Committee of the IAP- the Global Network of Science Academies. She can be reached on Twitter @RaghidaDergham
Tunisia’s noble success, where many have failed
By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Monday, 14 December 2015
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet in October. It was awarded to people who worked to prevent their country from falling into the abyss due to the winds of change during the Arab Spring.
What the people of Tunisia accomplished speaks for itself, Nobel Prize aside. Taking a look at what’s happening in neighboring countries, like Libya, for example, is enough to tell you that. Tunisia has walked the same path as Libya but it did not collapse into the abyss.
The country is currently stable thanks to the agreement of the Tunisian brothers who – despite not being able to agree on anything before – decided to sit and work together in what marked a defining moment.
So thank you to Tunisia’s politicians, parties, intellectuals, institutions, organizations and syndicates for producing the reconciliation, and accepting the minimum of their wishes so they can all be partners in the country.
Tunisia and its people became admirable because it’s the only Arab country to walk the path of change with the least amount of chaos and relapses. This is in addition to the fact that Tunisia set the first sparks of the Arab Spring.
Long road to reconciliation
The head of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee considers Tunisia a country that serves as an example. But the road is long and a Nobel award in itself does not produce results. Yielding results requires a determination to continue the country’s reconciliatory project, a commitment to respecting the constitution, and the acceptance of election results. It is a task that requires patience and continuous sacrifice.
Tunisia is a country that does not have a lot of economic resources. A terrorist attack or an explosion is thus enough to sabotage sources of livelihood. It is however not enough to harm the social and political fabric, which is the only safety net.
Political groups that reject the project of a modern Tunisia attempted to resort to violence but failed to sabotage the new regime. The Nobel Prize here represents a global recognition of what the Tunisian people did to confront chaos, choose reconciliation and unite against terrorism.
But why has Tunisia succeeded while the rest of the Arab Spring countries have not?
What makes Tunisia’s Islamists, liberals and leftists finally able to agree on a formula for co-existence, and on basic principles to resort to in parliament and when implementing the constitution?
The question I’m asking those whom justify chaos, and like to blame others, is this: Why have the other countries which passed through what Tunisia passed through in 2011 failed?
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 14, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
Good omen for peace
By MUHAMMAD WAQAS
Tuesday 15 December 2015
Finally, sanity has prevailed. After months of heightened border tensions, surge of the right-wing in India and rebuke of Sharif’s four-point peace agenda, India has started to show an interest in improving ties with neighboring Pakistan. Perhaps as a result of mounting international pressure or poor performance by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in state assembly elections, there has been a sudden change of heart from the Indian leadership and positive developments have been made in reviving the stalled peace process between the two sides. Whatever be the reason, the recent peace moves need to be welcomed as a step forward in the right direction.
While the “chance” meeting in Paris between Sharif and Modi at the climate conference did not result in any substantive discussions, it was definitely an ice breaker that spurred rumors of even bigger possibilities in the days to come. This was quickly followed by interaction between the national security advisers of both states, who discussed terrorism, peace along the Line of Control (LoC) and other diplomatic issues. If the warm smiles and positive words of India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz are anything to go by, then Pakistan and India are ready to continue constructive engagement for improved bilateral relations.
This progress is a good omen for promoting peace and lowering tensions between the two bitter neighbors. Pakistan and India have agreed to reinitiate the comprehensive dialogue process to discuss all outstanding issues between the two sides. These issues include peace and security, confidence building measures, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, economic and commercial cooperation and counterterrorism strategy.
In addition, the two parties have also shown a desire to promote people-to-people exchanges to establish goodwill and better cultural understanding. These topics have been lingering on for a long time and have been discussed several times on high level platforms. Without wasting any more time, these disputes must be solved to establish peace in South Asia for improving the lives of about 1.5 billion people in the region.
Of course, there will be hawkish elements and haters on both sides of the fence, displeased with the current peace gestures. Keeping in mind the history of distrust and animosity between the two rivals, they will term the backdoor Modi-Sharif meetings dubious and a compromise on matters of national interest. These hatemongers, some of them having a strong presence on the media as well, will do their best to sabotage the peace process. But, it is hoped that the leadership of both countries will continue to explore all diplomatic channels to further the peace process by winning public support for the cause.
They must show political will and maturity, and conviction, in the peace talks to develop good relations and pursue their respective geostrategic interests in the region. It is only then that they will be able to defy history of their ties, which is marked by one step forward and two step back.
Till then, there is reason to be optimistic as foreign secretaries of the two countries are scheduled to meet soon, while Modi is also expected to travel to Islamabad for SAARC summit next year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and pray for peace.
The horrors of Trumpistan
By LINDA S. HEARD
Tuesday 15 December 2015
Mexicans are drug traffickers and rapists. The physically disabled are figures of fun. Women are objectified for their looks. African Americans can be trusted with money; that job goes to short guys wearing yamulkas. Muslim-Americans should be registered on a database or possibly placed in internment camps as Japanese-Americans were in WW2. Mosques must be shut down. Muslim visitors banned from entry into the United States. Suspects open to being water-boarded.
If the person who spouted all this racist and bigoted tripe happened to be European, he’d likely be looking at the inside of a courtroom for promoting religious and racial hatred, not touting for the most important job in the land.
Just a few short months ago, Donald Trump was just a figure of fun — a larger than life personality adding excitement to the race. He was written-off by the media as a no-hoper. But that was then. Now he’s Teflon man, confident enough to cheer on a gang of his supporters who roughed up a heckler from Black Lives Matter and mimic a disabled reporter.
He has broken all norms, but his poll numbers surge ahead regardless. His anti-Muslim rhetoric, far from eliciting outrage, bumped him up to 35 percent points in polls of Republican voters. Moreover, a mere 29 percent of Republicans polled found his remarks about Muslims offensive. Six out of 10 believe he is likeable.
This is truly scary stuff! Imagine this self-obsessed, narcissist as America’s commander-in-chief empowered to launch wars with the nuclear button never far from his hand. Can’t happen? Don’t be so sure. He is artfully tapping into America’s concerns and fears, the trademark of fascists.
Never mind that more Americans are killed by falling furniture annually than by terrorists, he’s following on the footsteps of McCarthy who whipped up “Reds under the bed” anti-Communist hysteria, except his target are the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims, who are, by far, terrorism’s greatest victims.
Right now, almost two-thirds of Americans nationwide see the prospect of a President Trump as frightening. That’s reassuring, but, if in the months ahead there are more terrorist attacks on American soil, which Trump will surely exploit, that percentage could diminish. Fear, real or imagined, initiates people’s survival instincts overriding their common decency and human values.
Orwell’s masterpiece “Nineteen eighty-four” illustrates how the mob mind can be manipulated by the politics of hate and fear. The rulers of imaginary Oceania control their human subjects with such slogans as “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery” and “ignorance is strength.” Big Brother indoctrinated the crowds by promoting love of tribe and people’s visceral fear of the other and death.
I’m not shocked that his message of making America Great resonates with millions of less-educated Americans and white supremacists, but I am surprised at the Republican Party’s head honchos for not kicking him out, even if he is threatening to go it alone if he’s not treated right. As responsible lawmakers and politicians, they are duty-bound to put country before partisanship. Otherwise, the executive branch should find a mechanism whereby he can be legally excluded from running as someone who shames not only his party but also his nation’s much-touted values.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was right to call him “a disgrace to his country.” The billionaire Emirati businessman and philanthropist, Khalaf Al-Habtoor, was right to say, “If he turned up at my office I wouldn’t let him in.” Sen. Lindsey Graham was right to urge his party to tell Trump “to go to hell.” The more than half-a-million Britons who signed a petition calling for Trump to be barred from the UK should be respected for doing what’s right.
The international community, in particular the political and religious leaders of the Muslim world, should loud their voices to tell the powers that be within the US that such slander against Muslims and certain races from a presidential candidate is not only unacceptable but there will be a price to pay in terms of investment, trade and diplomatic relations.
“Never again” said the free world in response to the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. Now the world must prove those words were meant before things get out of control. Americans never cease asking Muslims to come out against terrorism. Now it’s time for Americans to come out against Trump.