Friday, January 14, 2005

BROTHERS IN ALMS

By PETER BERGEN
abul, Afghanistan

AROUND the Islamic world it is common currency that Muslims are perpetual victims of Western and Zionist conspiracies. The bill of particulars includes the handling of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Israel's inequitable treatment of the Palestinians, and the deaths of thousands of civilians in Iraq - as a result first of United Nations sanctions after the Persian Gulf war, and more recently of the American occupation. The most articulate spokesman of such views is, of course, Osama bin Laden.

Yet when Muslims are suffering, it is usually the West, and often the United States, that takes the lead in helping. For instance, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Washington mounted its largest covert aid program since Vietnam to help the Afghan resistance; when Somalis were starving in the early 1990's, President George H. W. Bush sent 25,000 American troops to help relief efforts; when Serbs were massacring Bosnian Muslims in the mid-1990's President Bill Clinton (belatedly) directed the United States Air Force to bomb Serbian positions, which led to the Dayton accords.

More recently, it was the United States that overthrew the tyrannical government of the Taliban, a regime recognized only by three Muslim countries: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. Other than Turkey, no Muslim nation has sent troops to Afghanistan to help stabilize the poorest country in the Islamic world (a few Muslim states, including Jordan, offered token deployments but were turned down).

Now the same pattern - action by Western countries and inertia from Muslim states - can be seen in the efforts to provide relief for those hardest hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami. While 100,000 of the victims are from Aceh, the most Islamic of Indonesia's provinces, Muslim countries are contributing a relative pittance. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is contributing the most: a paltry $30 million, about the same as what Netherlands is giving and less than one-tenth of the United States contribution. And no Arab governments participated in the conference in Jakarta on Thursday where major donors and aid organizations conferred over reconstruction efforts.

This anemic effort on the part of the richest countries is emblematic of a wider political problem in the Islamic world. For all of the invocations by Muslim leaders of the ummah, or the global community of believers, they typically do little to help their fellow Muslims in times of crisis.

Arab leaders and their toothless talking shops like the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference are excellent at denouncing problems in Palestine and Iraq, but most stood silent as a million died in the war between Iraq and Iran during the 1980's. When President Hafez al-Assad of Syria massacred some 20,000 people after an Islamist uprising in the city of Hama in 1982, there were no expressions of outrage from the Islamic Conference. Egypt routinely tortures political prisoners, untroubled by fears that other Arab leaders will seriously condemn such actions.

Perhaps the generosity of Western countries will spur Islamic states to recognize that invocations of religious Muslim solidarity will do little to feed the millions of Muslims who remain acutely vulnerable to disease and starvation in the aftermath of this enormous natural catastrophe.

There have been a few positive signs in recent days. Spurred by criticism, Saudi state-run television organized a telethon this week that raised private pledges of more than $75 million, and the Islamic Development Bank has pledged $500 million.

Much remains to be done, however. The Persian Gulf countries that are reaping a bonanza from record oil prices should send a meaningful percentage of those windfall profits to their fellow Muslims devastated by the tsunami, rather than lining the pockets of their ruling families. After all, zakat, the giving of charity, is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Peter Bergen is a fellow of the New America Foundation and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.




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Ridge Says U.S. Remains Top Al Qaeda Target

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States remains al Qaeda's top target, despite a recent decline in intelligence pointing specifically to plans for a U.S. attack, outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said on Wednesday.
"We can't be any less vigilant because the level of intelligence that speaks specifically about us over the past couple of months has been reduced," Ridge said at a briefing hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington.

"I don't think we can lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day the United States and our economy and our way of life is still their (al Qaeda's) primary target," he said.

Ridge said it was "somewhat illusory" to suggest that the decline in information about attacks directed at the United States was anything other than a possible "strategic decision during a particular period of time to concentrate most of their efforts in a particular part of the world."

After several months of increased threat levels in parts of the United States ahead of the November 2004 presidential elections, alert levels have now returned to the normal "elevated" position across the country in the absence of new intelligence about planned U.S. attacks.

Still, officials say they are imposing unprecedented security to protect the inauguration of President Bush on Jan. 20, the first such ceremony since the Sept. 11 2001, attacks.

Ridge said on Tuesday that although there was no specific threat to the ceremony itself, security would still be heightened in Washington during the swearing-in and the four days of celebrations opening Bush's second term.

Ridge, who is stepping down from his post at the end of this month, said there were no plans to raise the nation's color-coded terror threat level, which was established after Bush declared a war against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks.


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Radical Islam in The Netherlands

A Case Study of a Failed European Policy
Manfred Gerstenfeld

On December 23, 2004, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior published a 60-page report entitled From Dawa to Jihad. Prepared by the Dutch general intelligence service (AIVD), it describes radical Islam and examines how to meet its threat to Dutch society.

Among the close to one million Dutch Muslims, about 95 percent are moderates. This implies that there are up to 50,000 potential radicals.

Since September 11, 2001, phenomena such as the growth of radical Islamic groups, polarization between Muslims and the surrounding society, limitations in the process of integration, and Islamist terrorism have increased in The Netherlands.

The capability of Dutch society to resist the threat of radical Islam is considered low, though recently a greater desire has become apparent among the Dutch population to become more resistant. Also within the Dutch Muslim community resistance against radical forces is low. The moderate organizations and individuals are not able to counterbalance the radical forces.

An earlier AIVD report dealt with Saudi influences in The Netherlands, mentioning a number of mosque organizations that originated from Saudi missions and financing. The Amsterdam Tawheed mosque, which in the past has put extreme anti-Semitic statements on its website, is linked financially, organizationally, and personally with the Saudi Al Haramain Foundation. Several other mosques are supported financially by Saudi charities.

The Dutch report places the blame for the origins of the problem squarely on the deeply-rooted ideology of fierce opposition to the Western way of life among certain Muslim groups. It does not claim that the problem of radical Muslims would disappear if there were peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel and Jews are not mentioned in the report.



Dutch Intelligence Report Examines Radical Muslim Threat
On December 23, 2004, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior published a 60-page report entitled From Dawa to Jihad.1 It was prepared by the AIVD, the Dutch general intelligence service, and examines how to meet the threat of radical Islam to Dutch society. Although the report is conceptual in nature, it is evident that to achieve even a part of its goals, substantial legal and behavioral changes in Dutch society will be necessary.

This also became clear during the parliamentary debate that followed, in the statement by Maxime Verhagen, faction chairman of The Netherlands' largest party, the middle of the road Christian Democrat party (CDA) of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, which has 44 of the 150 seats in the Chambers. He proposed that judges should be able to take away constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly, from radical Muslims.2 No other party supported him.

The Minister of the Interior, Johan Remkes, observed that the prevention, isolation, and limitation of increasing radicalization is important. He added that this should be done by "all layers of Dutch society."3 There is, however, no way that this can be realized in the current societal climate of The Netherlands.



Understanding Dutch Culture
The general attitude of Dutch society over the past decades can be characterized by two Dutch words. The first is "gedoogcultuur," which literally means "a culture of permissiveness" but has become synonymous with "closing one's eyes" to multiple transgressions of the law. These include disparate matters such as soft drug use, immigration policies, safety of industrial and commercial operations, as well as many other subjects. It reflects a basic anti-authoritarian attitude that is quite common in Dutch society.

The second key word is "poldermodel," which means that efforts are made to reach a very broad national consensus on important issues. Though mainly used in the economic arena, this approach reflects Dutch society at large. The Dutch like to find solutions to problems through discussions without defining positions too sharply. This model can be explained as a legacy of Dutch history. In the past, people living behind dikes, at below sea level, had to cooperate with each other when there was danger of flooding. Both the gedoogcultuur and the poldermodel have already come under major criticism in recent years.

The AIVD report attempts to be as factual as possible. On such a problematic subject, however, this means that it cannot be politically correct as it defines part of an identifiable ethno-religious community as a danger to society. One may wonder whether the ministry would have found it politically convenient to publish the report had not Muslim radical Mohammed Boyeri cruelly murdered provocative Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in an Amsterdam street on November 2, 2004. In the following weeks there were tens of arson attempts against Muslim institutions and Christian churches. Prior to the murder, it was almost unthinkable for a government agency report to single out the Muslim community. The AIVD justified its publication by noting that it was responding to complaints by local authorities that they did not have enough information about radical Islam.



The Report's Key Elements
The AIVD report explains that the key ideological aim of radical Islamic groups is to target the Western way of life, and to confront alleged Western political, economic, and cultural domination. Such groups may be either nationalistic or religiously-oriented. The report notes:

Among the close to one million Dutch Muslims, about 95 percent are moderates. This implies that there are up to 50,000 potential radicals.

Recruitment in The Netherlands for the armed radical Muslim struggle - mainly among descendants of immigrants - is not incidental but rather a trend.4 This issue was discussed in an earlier AIVD report published in 2002,5 that mentioned that there had been at least ten recruiters at work in The Netherlands and assumed that there were several tens of Muslim youngsters in various stages of the recruitment process.

In recent years, and in particular since September 11, 2001, phenomena such as the growth of radical Islamic groups, polarization between Muslims and the surrounding society, limitations in the process of integration, and Islamist terrorism have increased in The Netherlands.6

Of the eight categories of radical Islam defined, four aim at dawa [proselytizing], which from the report's perspective goes beyond proselytizing to the undermining of the democratic order through abusing democratic means. Four others are of a jihadic [holy war] nature, i.e., they use or promote violence. Most of these are present in The Netherlands.

In The Netherlands one finds types of dawa in the political Arab European League Movement (AEL),7 in a limited number of Salafist mosques,8 in Islamist missions, some of which are financed by Saudi Arabia,9 as well as among individual Muslim preachers.10 Other types of dawa are promoted on the websites of foreign radical Muslim scholars11 and in chatrooms.12 Teacherless autonomous radicalization takes place, inter alia, in jails, in some Muslim schools, and in mosques.

In The Netherlands one also finds various forms of support for jihad. For example, the international radical organization Hizb ut Tahrir, which promotes jihad in a hidden way, has a presence.13 There are also local Muslim terrorist networks.14

The capability of Dutch society to resist the threat of radical Islam is considered low, though recently a greater desire has become apparent among the Dutch population to become more resistant.15

The resistance within the Dutch Muslim community against radical forces is low. The moderate organizations and individuals are not able to counterbalance the radical forces.16



Measures Proposed
The report also indicates in broad terms how the threat of radical Islam should be combated. It suggests a continuous legal check on the activities of radical Muslims regarding discrimination, hate-promotion, and incitement. However, this kind of surveillance is largely alien to the Dutch legal and police culture of the last decades. The report also repeats earlier proposed measures such as checks on the movement of money. Furthermore, while noting that improvement in the economic situation of the Dutch Muslim population is laudable, it notes that there is no proof that this limits radicalization.17

Other measures proposed are mainly medium and long-term strategies, including the distribution of better information on radical Islamic groups, collaboration with moderate forces in the Muslim community, encouraging more moderate forms of Islam, and the promotion of identity-creation among Muslims.

Other recommendations mentioned, without any concrete proposals regarding their execution, include the development of positive role models for young Muslims to replace the criminal role models that are positively viewed by some Muslim youth, as well as democracy education.

Mention is also made of the need to consider working with the authorities in those countries that send out radical Islamic missionaries, but this issue has not yet been discussed in The Netherlands.18



Why is the Report Important?
While many elements in the report have appeared in the media over the years, its importance lies in being an official document of the Dutch government. In the past, the Dutch government has largely avoided confronting the overall threat of Islamic radicalization to which its predecessors' policies on immigration, integration, and neglect of law enforcement have contributed.

Equally important are some issues that the report fails to mention, which are the inevitable outcome of its conclusions. Radical Muslims can, by definition, only be found in the Muslim community and are dispersed throughout it. To be effective in the struggle against radical Islam, Dutch Muslims will have to be watched and scrutinized by the police and the intelligence services much more intensively than most other sectors of Dutch society. This singling out implies giving less priority to Dutch equality and privacy laws. In addition, since radical Muslims mainly interact with other Muslims, a crucial element of success will be the collaboration of moderate Muslims with the police in informing on suspected individuals.

The main foreign promoters of dawa and jihad who influence their Dutch disciples are not analyzed in the report in any detail, nor are the most influential foreign Muslim preachers of anti-Western hatred and violence named. There is little specific mention of the role of foreign governments and charities.



Saudi Influences
An earlier AIVD report, however, dealt with Saudi influences in The Netherlands.19 It mentioned that in The Netherlands there were a number of mosque organizations which are Salafist in nature, that originated from Saudi missions and financing. The Amsterdam Tawheed mosque, which in the past has put extreme anti-Semitic statements on its website, is linked financially, organizationally, and personally with the Saudi Al Haramain Foundation. Three other mosques are linked with the private Saudi mission, Al Waqf Al Islami, that is related to key figures in the Saudi establishment.

Though not explicitly Salafist, there are several other mosques in The Netherlands which are supported financially by Saudi charities, private philanthropists, or government bodies. Sometimes the payments are not made to the mosques directly but to the imams. The report considers both the origin and destination of this financing to be obscure.

Most of the radical imams come from Egypt, Syria, Sudan, or Somalia. Many have studied in Saudi Arabia. For a long time in a number of ultra-orthodox mosques, extremist sermons have included saying that secular people, socialists, or democrats were allies of Satan. Stoning was preached as a punishment for extra-marital relations, etc.

While it has not been proven that jihad has been openly promoted in Dutch mosques, there have been sermons with jihadic tendencies, such as requests to Allah to kill "the enemies of Islam" such as Bush and Sharon and the enemies of Islam in Kashmir and Chechnya.

The ambassador of Saudi Arabia in early 2004 promised full transparency on financing. However, since then, very little has happened on that matter. While there has been some recent moderation in the sermons, the AIVD now believes the incitement takes place elsewhere in smaller, closed meetings. The report concluded that there were no indications that the risks and size of Islamic radicalism and jihadism in The Netherlands had changed in any way recently.



Israeli Aspects
From an Israeli perspective, the report is most important for what it does not say. It places the blame for the origins of the dawa and jihad problem squarely on the deeply-rooted ideology of fierce opposition to the Western way of life among certain Muslim groups. It does not attempt to hide behind the frequent Western escapist claim that the problem of radical Muslims would disappear if there were peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel and Jews are not mentioned in the report.

Accepting the report's findings and conclusions means that the Dutch political system admits, de facto, that its societal model of excessive tolerance for intolerance and crime has failed. In this, it could become a European paradigm. However, whether a more realistic domestic policy in The Netherlands and a better insight into the extreme forms of Muslim culture will also mean a better understanding of the Middle Eastern reality remains to be seen.

* * *

Notes
1. "Van dawa tot jihad. De diverse dreigingen van de radicale islam tegen de democratische rechtsorde," Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties, 2004 [Dutch]. (Hereafter "the Dawa Report.")
2. "CDA: Ontneem extremist rechten," Trouw, 24 December 2004 [Dutch].
3. "Nota AIVD: 'westerse leefstijl doelwit radicalen,'" NRC Handelsblad, 23 December 2004 [Dutch].
4. The Dawa Report, p. 6.
5. "Rekrutering in Nederland voor de jihad van incident naar trend," AIVD 2002 [Dutch].
6. The Dawa Report, p. 23.
7. The Dawa Report, p. 40. This movement is strongest in Belgium, but also has a Dutch branch.
8. The Dawa Report, p. 42.
9. The Dawa Report, p. 43.
10. The Dawa Report, p. 43.
11. The Dawa Report, p. 43.
12. The Dawa Report, p. 43.
13. The Dawa Report, p. 46.
14. The Dawa Report, p. 47.
15. The Dawa Report, p. 50.
16. The Dawa Report, p. 50.
17. The Dawa Report, p. 58.
18. The Dawa Report, p. 57.
19. "Saoedische invloeden in Nederland, Verbanden tussen salafitische missie, radicaliseringsprocessen en islamistisch-terrorisme," AIVD, 2004 [Dutch].



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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Who Approves of This Invasion?

THE MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR –
ROUND 2
By Don Feder

For decades now, our bad neighbor to the south has aided and abetted its impoverished citizens to enter the United States illegally – a process that pays handsome dividends to Mexico, but results in massive trauma and social upheaval for the gringos.

The latest attack on our sovereignty is a 32-page color comic book published by Mexico’s foreign ministry and designed as a self-help manual for illegal aliens.

The publication (which should be titled “Juan and Miguel Join Mexico’s National Synchronized Swimming Team”) contains helpful advice on crossing the Rio Grande (wear light clothing), traversing the desert (carry salt tablets as well as water) and preventing repatriation once the illegal arrives in the U.S. (avoid bar brawls, domestic disturbances, drunk driving and other behavior likely to attract the attention of authorities).

“This guide is intended to give you some practical advice that could be of use if you have made the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities outside your country,” the handbook explains. Over 1.5 million copies have already been distributed, inside a popular cowboy comic book – indicative of the level of literacy in Old Mexico.

To cries of outrage on this side of the border, the Mexican government responds that it isn’t encouraging illegal immigration (Why, they wouldn’t dream of it!) but is merely trying to protect its itinerant citizens.

“Last year, over 300 Mexicans died in their attempt to enter the United States (illegally) in search of a job, and the government has the obligation to avoid that,” says Geronimo Gutierrez, undersecretary of North American Affairs for Mexico’s foreign ministry.

Well, if Gutierrez and the government of Vincente Fox (who calls border-jumpers “heroes”) is really interested in preventing the deaths of Juan and Miguel, it has only to describe, in graphic detail, what it’s like to die of dehydration in the desert -- illustrated with appropriate photographs – instead of facilitating their criminality.

Or, it could tell its citizens how to apply for a visa. (Wouldn’t that be a novelty: Mexicans who enter the U.S. legally.) Instead, it encourages its citizens to break our laws and undermine our national identity.

Even the friends of a porous border understand that the move is a PR disaster.

A January 5th editorial in the pro-immigration Arizona Republic observes that the comic book will make it harder for the Bush administration and its congressional allies -- in this case, including Edward Kennedy -- to sell another amnesty or a “guest-worker” program to the American people.

“Mexico’s booklet on how to sneak into the United States … raises serious doubts about whether Mexico will ever help curb illegal migration – even if the United States creates a legal mechanism for large numbers of workers to obtain temporary work visas,” the editorial warns.

Let any lingering doubts be dispelled! Short to stationing troops on the border to provide cover fire for infiltrators, the Mexican government will do everything in its power to facilitate illegal immigration.

The heirs of Montezuma and Cortez have a continent to gain and nothing to lose.

Once in the U.S., the “migrant” goes from wages of $5 per day, to $60 a day for manual labor. Mexico gets to export its surplus population. And the nation receives $15 billion annually in remittances. This exceeds its combined income from tourism and foreign investments, and is second only to oil exports as a source of national wealth.

Mexicans here constitute a growing constituency for whatever Mexico City wants from Washington -- due to the latest fashion in political pandering: courting the Hispanic vote – and a fifth column which could eventually wrest California, Texas and the Southwest away from America (La Reconquista).

And there’s never a penalty. After wiping the spittle from our face, we continue to shower benefits (like NAFTA) on those who mock our laws and undermine our sovereignty – Mexico City’s modern-day Pancho Villas.

Within days of his re-election, the president dispatched Secretary of State Colin Powell to Mexico to re-start talks on the size and scope of the latest proposed amnesty (which, of course, isn’t being called an amnesty) and guest-worker program.

Illegal immigration doesn’t work quite as well for the importing nation as it does for the exporters – despite the pleading of Fortune 500 Republicans about the “jobs Americans won’t take.” In reality, illegal immigration artificially depresses the wages of certain jobs – making them unattractive to Americans.

Cheap immigrant labor is really quite dear. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, illegal aliens cost the state of California $10.5 billion annually, or almost $1,200 per year for every native-born family.

Included in that cost is $7.7 billion to educate the children of illegal aliens (who now constitute 15% of the state’s K-12 enrollment), $1.4 billion for health care for illegals and their families and the same amount to incarcerate alien lawbreakers.

In 1980, fewer than 9,000 criminal aliens were held in our state and federal prisons. That number grew to more than 68,000 in 1999. In Orange County, California alone, there are 275 street gangs, with 17,000 members – 98% Mexican or Asian. Not only do our uninvited guests get to rob, rape murder and deal drugs, but we get to pay for the incarceration of those who are caught.

Restaurants, landscapers, contractors and meatpacking plants get labor at below-market prices. The taxpayer gets the bill. As Milton Friedman admonishes us, there is no such thing as a free lunch – especially when it comes to immigration.

But that’s not the worst of it.

Besides crime, poverty and increased social costs, those who make the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities in the Golden Pinata – 300,000 a year, net – bring with them language fragmentation, alienation and a loss of national identity.

· The number of Spanish-speakers in the U.S. is doubling every decade. We now have bi-lingual education, bi-lingual ballots and bi-lingual tests for drivers’ licenses.

· Almost anywhere in the country, when you pull up to a drive-through ATM, you’re given the option of proceeding in English or Spanish. Airport signs in both languages are common. (Can bi-lingual street signs be far behind?) Language-pandering has become a growth industry. Government, education and business all do their part to promote language ghetto-ization – to make it easy for Spanish-speakers to avoid learning English, and still make a living, get an education, raise a family and enjoy the rights of citizenship here.

· In 1999, the town of El Cenizo, Texas (south of Laredo) declared Spanish its official language and put out the welcome mat for illegal aliens, promising to protect them from the INS.

· Mexico’s total population is around 100 million. There are now 25.5 million post-1963 Mexican immigrants and their descendants in the United States. They constitute a nation within a nation – two-thirds the population of our largest state, alienated, belligerent and growing.

· Mexico has 54 consular offices in the United States – more than one for each state. They serve as support units for the alien invasion and brazenly interfere in American politics – from lobbying against official English measures (a few years ago, the consul general in Atlanta called the reform “racist” – this from the representative of a nation whose Congress is whiter than the Newport Yacht Club) to campaigning for new amnesties.

· To encourage Mexican nationals here to maintain their old identity and still influence our politics, Mexico has adopted a dual citizenship law.

· There’s hardly a public school in California that doesn’t have a Cinquo De Mayo essay contest. (Students in the state’s school system know more about a holiday celebrating one of Mexico’s rare military victories than the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving.)The birthday of labor agitator Cesar Chavez (March 31st.) is a California state holiday.

· The militant, separatist Chicano Student Movement of Atzlan (MEChA) has chapters at college and high school campuses across California and the Southwest. Its symbol is an eagle clutching a machete in one claw and a stick of dynamite in the other. It’s motto: “Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada (For the Race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing).” It is radical, racist, anti-Semitic and works toward regional secession and the expulsion of non-Chicanos from the future nation of Atzlan. How do you say “Nazi” in Spanish?

· Antonio Villaraigosa – the former Speaker of the California State Assembly who came close to being elected mayor of Los Angeles in 2001, and is running again this year – headed the UCLA chapter of MEChA in his college days. As a candidate in 2001, Villaraigosa not only refused to disassociate himself from this brown fascist ideology, but said he was proud of the group.

· California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is another MEChA alumnus (Fresno State). As a candidate for governor in last year’s recall election, Bustamante supported then-Governor Gray Davis’ bill for driver’s licenses for illegal aliens and wanted to give illegals in-state tuition at California colleges and universities. When it comes to public benefits, Bustamante said no distinction should be made between those here legally and illegally.

· In a 1997 speech to the National Council of La Raza , former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo said he “proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important – a very important – part of this.” In case you missed it, the Mexican government is saying its sovereignty extends to wherever Mexicans reside.

· Speaking in Nogales, in 2001, Mexican President Fox hailed illegal aliens with these words, “We want to salute these heroes, these kids leaving their homes, their communities, leaving with tears in their eyes, saying goodbye to their families, to set out on a difficult, sometimes painful search for a job, an opportunity they can’t find at home.” Americans too have tears in their eyes – when they survey the devastation wrought by Fox’s brave opportunity-seekers.

· Back in 1982, when the deluge was still a trickle, the Mexican newspaper “Excelsior” commented, “The American Southwest seems to be slowly returning to the jurisdiction of Mexico without firing a single shot.”

· Speaking at a symposium on the 150th. anniversary of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago (which ended the Mexican-American War and transferred California and the Southwest to the United States), Jose Angel Pescador Osuna – then Mexico’s consul general in Los Angeles – remarked, “Even though I am saying this part serious and part joking, I think we are practicing la Reconquista in California.” No kidding!

· Here are a few more choice quotes from Reconquistadors: “Remember, 187 (the proposition denying public benefits to illegal aliens) was the last gasp of white power in California” (Art Torres, chairman of the Democratic Party in California), “California is going to be a Hispanic state. Anyone who doesn’t like it should leave” (Mario Obledo, California Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under Jerry Brown, awarded the Presidential Freedom Medal by Bill Clinton), “We are politicizing every single one of these new citizens that are becoming citizens of this country….I gotta tell you that a lot of people are saying, ‘I’m going to go out there and vote, because I want to pay them back.’”( Gloria Molina, Los Angeles County Supervisor). Have you guessed who “they” are, and how these new voters intend to pay us back, gringo?

· David Kennedy, Donald J. McLauchlan Professor of American History at Stanford University warns, “The possibility looms that in the next generation or so, we will see a kind of Chicano Quebec take shape in the American Southwest.”

· Antonio Navarro, a professor at the University of California at Riverside and prominent Chicano activist exults. “If in the next 50 years our people are subordinated, powerless, exploited and impoverished, then I will say to you that there are all kinds of possibilities for movements to develop like the ones that we’ve witnessed in the last few years all over the world, from Yugoslavia to Chechnya.” Would that include open guerrilla warfare and Chicano suicide bombers?

Are you scared yet? Do you now understand that Mexico’s comic book/handbook for illegals is one more salvo in its undeclared war on America? (Call it the Mexican-American War, Round 2.)

All of which is not to say that Mexican-Americans (not those who call themselves Chicanos, but Americans of Mexican ancestry) can’t be good citizens. There are Mexican-Americans whose families have been here for generations. Over 30% of Mexican-American voters in California supported Proposition 187. Mexican-Americans have bled for our flag and died defending our borders.

Still, immigration from Mexico poses a special problem. Roughly one million better-job-seekers cross the rivers and deserts along the 2,000-mile Mexican-American border each year.

Between January 4 and October 1 of last year, the number of infiltrators apprehended jumped 13% (to 194,576). “This is clearly tied in with President Bush’s call after his re-election to revive the guest-worker program,” observes T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, representing 10,000 Border Patrol agents. “Migrants are rushing over the border to take advantage of that.”

Build it, and they will come.

From Washington to Sacramento – we’re building it (with amnesties, welfare benefits, drivers licenses for illegals, lax immigration enforcement and language pandering). And they are coming – a hungry, ravaging, grudge-bearing alien horde. If it continues, and our national house is still standing a few decades hence, it will be a miracle.


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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Recent Anti-American Sermons from Palestinian Authority Mosques

From MEMRI

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML format, visit
http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD84405

In the last few weeks the Friday sermons at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and
at the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Mosque in Gaza by preachers on the payroll of the
Palestinian Authority have included incitement against the United States. The
Palestinian preachers likened American activities in Iraq to the deeds of the
Mongols, claimed that the U.S. is conducting a Crusade against Islam and
Muslims, and that it is also trying to disseminate a forged Koran. The following
are excerpts from the sermons:


'Satan's Minions are Planning to Replace the Holy Koran'

On December 3, 2004, Sheikh Ikrimeh Sabri, 'Mufti of Jerusalem and the
Palestinian lands' and the senior religious authority in the PA, said:

"... This mad Crusade is not merely a war against the Muslims. It is a campaign
of hatred currently [being waged] against the great Islamic religion. [This
campaign] is growing in intensity with the aim of distorting the character of
Islam, and we have already warned about the dangers of this new Crusade two
years ago. A book titled 'Al-Furqan Al-Haqq' (The True Furqan)(1) has recently
been published in the U.S., in Arabic and in English. It was distributed to
bookstores in the U.S. and Europe, as well as over the Internet, and found its
way to many foreign schools in Arab countries.

"Unfortunately, we have not heard any reaction from the Arab and Muslim regimes;
it is as though this does not interest them. This forged book, which was named
'The True Koran,' is not the Koran, nor is it the truth. Its aim is to cast
doubt on the Holy Koran and on Muslim law and to drive the Muslims away from
their religion. What is more, Satan's minions are plotting to replace the Holy
Koran with this book... The book is the embodiment of a war of cultures and an
ideological invasion against Islam and against the Muslims in a manner that is
unambiguous, abrasive, and spiteful, in a desperate attempt to chase [the
Muslims] away from the Holy Koran and to draw them away from their religion.

"Muslims! Nation of the Koran! Satan's minions, who prepared 'The True Koran,'
planned to declare a new Crusade against Islam and against the Muslims, [which
will be waged] through the employment of all manner of the harshest repression -
political, economic, and military - against Muslims who stand firm in their
faith and are faithful to their homelands.

"The infidel and arrogant United States will attempt over the next three years
to weaken the greater Middle East by emptying the Arab region of all military
and economic power and by changing the education systems. At the same time, [it
will] strengthen Israel, militarily and economically, and will give it a free
hand against the Arab countries. The '[Greater] Middle East' plan also includes
the establishment of American media outlets and TV channels in Arabic throughout
the region in order to force the Muslims to abandon the Holy Koran and to adopt
the forged book, 'The True Koran.'"(2)


'How Similar Is Today to Yesterday, when Palestine Fell to the Crusaders and
Baghdad to the Mongols'

The Palestinian preacher Hayyan Al-Idrisi said in a Friday sermon at the Al-Aqsa
Mosque in Jerusalem, on December 10, 2004:

"Iraq and Baghdad are being subjected to a savage attack by the most arrogant,
cruelest, and strongest country in the world today - the U.S. They acted like
the Mongols - they burned everything they came across, destroyed sown fields,
destroyed houses with people inside them, murdered children and men, and opened
deadly fire on citizens...

"How similar is today to yesterday, when Palestine fell to the Crusaders and
Baghdad to the Tartars [i.e., the Mongols]... Today the Arab countries are
divided, the [various] governments are far apart, and are based on oppression
and corruption and make use of a band of hypocrites who love falsehood and
support corruption. These are virulent regimes that revile, hate, and oppress
one another. These regimes are impudent with friends and allies. These are
regimes that collaborate with the enemy and with foreign peoples. They have
given up their rights, [and then ask their enemies to arbitrate, and ask for
mercy from those who humiliated them and made them roll in the dust.

"The sad thing is that the Arab nation knows that the U.S. did not invade Iraq
in order to liberate its people from an oppressive regime. The history [of the
U.S.] proves that it has supported, and still supports, dictators and corrupt
regimes in the Third World. Our governments and peoples know that the U.S. came
in order to capture the oil resources and to help Israel obliterate whatever was
left of the national spirit that called for the liberation of Arab lands from
the occupiers. It also came in order to strengthen the power bases that support
it and to intimidate countries that do not fall in line with it. The U.S. came
under the pretext that it is fighting evil and spreading democracy and freedom,
but everyone knows that the U.S. heads the list of evildoers in the world. There
is no place left against whose citizens the U.S. has not fought, and it has
already murdered millions. It declares that it is ceaselessly fighting
terrorism, but it is the U.S. that is generating terrorism. This is state
terrorism, which is far worse than any other terrorism..."(3)


'The U.S. Made Good on Its Threats, Conquered Iraq, Stole Its Treasures,
Murdered Its People, and Tore Its Unity Asunder'

The Palestinian preacher Yusef Abu Sneina said, in a Friday sermon at the
Al-Aqsa Mosque, on December 17, 2004, that:

"... The media recently reported that the U.S. intends to invade Iran... Iran is
standing alone against the aggressive policies of the U.S., since the [Arab]
rulers are looking out for their personal interests and not for the future of
the Islamic peoples. The U.S. pronounced Iran, Iraq, and North Korea to be the
axis of evil. It made good on its threats, conquered Iraq, stole its treasures,
murdered its people, and tore its unity asunder... Iran must be strong and
present hard-line positions, and must not give in to American hegemony, for if
Iran grows weak it will become easy prey."(4)


'We Have a Huge Blood Feud to Avenge with the British Government and People,
Which We Will Not Forgive or Forget'

In a Friday sermon broadcast on December 17, 2004, by PA TV from the Sheik Ijlin
Mosque in Gaza, PA preacher Ibrahim Mudeiris said:

"Oh Muslims, the enemies of Islam are fighting us, our morality, our faith, our
religion, our economics, our holy places, and our rights. Their tyranny does not
prevent them from declaring their hostility towards Islam and the Muslims.

"Various articles have been published in the press about the declarations of
many high-ranking enemies of Islam and enemies of this [Muslim] nation, who are
planning how to eradicate Islam. One of them said: 'Islam can be eradicated only
if the four [following things] are eradicated: The Koran, Al-Azhar, Friday, and
the Hajj'... Why are they fighting the Koran? Because the Koran is the law of
this nation and the source of its strength and glory. Why [are they fighting]
Al-Azhar? Because it is the source of inspiration and knowledge, and it provides
education to the Muslims and produces religious scholars.

"In a report of a U.S. committee which appeared a few months ago ... there is [a
part] relating to war against Egypt. They fought the existence of the noble
Al-Azhar, and the existence of the Mufti of Al-Azhar. Why is there a mufti in
Egypt? Why does Al-Azhar have a sheikh? One is enough, that's [what was written]
in the report... They are fighting the Friday, which is an opportunity for
Muslims to convene, because they don't want Muslims to have a banner calling for
Muslim unity [or for Muslims to have a chance] to gather, even in mosques.

"As for the Hajj, why do the enemies of Islam fight the Hajj and view it as an
enemy? Because the Hajj is the greatest Islamic gathering on earth. [People]
heed it not according to instructions from the U.S. and the West and not
according to instructions from the Zionists, but according to the instructions
of Allah, the Lord of Heaven and Earth."(5)


'The Jews are a Cancer Spreading in the Arab and Muslim Nations'

In a sermon at the Sheikh Ijlin Mosque in Gaza on January 7, 2005, Sheikh
Mudeiris said:

"The Jews are a cancer spreading in the body of the Arab nation and the Islamic
nation, a cancer that has spread and reached the Arab institutions, the villages
and the refugee camps. It has reached Arab and Islamic cities, where [they] make
investments. This is an economic invasion. [They] are investing in South-East
Asian countries which were destroyed as a result of corruption and defacement by
the Jews and the Americans...

"The U.S. calls for liberty and democracy so much that we hate the word
'democracy.' We hate the word 'democracy' because it provides legitimacy to our
torture and abuse... The honor of our brothers and sisters is being violated,
the honor of women and youth is being violated, they are being tortured with
electrical shocks and dogs. Entire villages have been destroyed, with all their
residents, in the name of democracy and liberty. What the people of the
Jahiliyya(6) did was much less severe than what is being done in Palestine,
Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries..."(7)

Endnotes:
(1) The word furqan in Arabic, which means "salvation," is one of the names for
the Koran. The book may be viewed at the Internet site:
http://www.islam-exposed.org .
(2) http://www.alminbar.net/alkhutab/khutbaa.asp?mediaURL=7473 .
(3) http://www.alminbar.net/alkhutab/khutbaa.asp?mediaURL=7512 .
(4) http://www.alminbar.net/alkhutab/khutbaa.asp?mediaURL=7521 .
(5) PA TV, December 24, 2004.
(6) The pre-Islamic era.
(7) PA TV, January 7, 2005.


|

Americanism—and Its Enemies

David Gelernter

Anti-Americanism has blossomed frantically in recent years. Nearly the whole world seems to be pock-marked with lesions of hate. Some of this hatred focuses on George W. Bush, but much of it goes beyond the President to encompass the supposed evils of America and Americanism in general. In its passionate and unreasoning intensity, anti-Americanism resembles a religion—or a caricature of a religion. And this fact tells us something important about Americanism itself.

By Americanism I do not mean American tastes or style, or American culture—that convenient target of America-haters everywhere. Nor do I mean mere patriotic devotion; many nations command patriotic devotion from their citizens (or used to). By Americanism I mean the set of beliefs that are thought to constitute America’s essence and to set it apart; the beliefs that make Americans positive that their nation is superior to all others—morally superior, closer to God.

Frenchmen used to think France superior on account of its culture and civilisation; many still do. Germans once thought they were smarter, deeper and (possibly) racially superior. Englishmen once considered themselves natural rulers and believed that their governmental structures set Britain on a higher plane. And so on. Not all nations have “isms,” and not all those who do (or did) have been equally serious about their particular “ism.” America has one and is dead serious about it.

Most national “isms” have seemed fearsome or hateful only insofar as they were militarily threatening. Communism was feared because of its power to foment internal subversion. In the late-18th and 19th centuries, America stood for radical republicanism and the breaking-down of inherited rank—grounds for hatred among much of the European elite. But over the last century or so, America has remained an object of hatred within nations that have themselves gone over to American-style democracy; has been hated by people who had nothing whatsoever to fear from American power. America, Winston Churchill said during World War II, was the great republic “whose power arouses no fear and whose pre-eminence excites no jealousy.” Evidently this is no longer true.

Americanism is notable, of course, not merely for its spectacular ability to arouse hate. Over the roughly four centuries of American and proto-American existence, it has also inspired remarkable feats of devotion. You would need some sort of fierce determination to set forth in a puny, broad-beamed, high-pooped, painfully slow, nearly undefended 17th-century ship to cross the uncharted ocean to an unknown, unmapped new world. You would need remarkable determination to push westward into the heartland away from settlement and safety. You would need ferocious bravado to provoke the dominant great power of the day on the basis of rather flimsy excuses, and ultimately to declare war and proclaim your independence. The Union side in the Civil War would have needed practically incandescent determination to keep fighting after the South had won decisive battles, slaughtered vast numbers of Union soldiers, and gained the sympathy of the two leading West European powers.

In the 20th century, you would have needed enormous determination to turn your back on the isolationism and anti-militarism that comes naturally to Americans and butt into World War I—and then, after World War II, to reject isolationism once again when you accepted the Soviet empire’s challenge. Freedom and independence for Greece and Turkey—not exactly pressing American interests—occasioned America’s entry into the cold war. And what on earth would make an Idaho or Nebraska farmer—that man about whom Tony Blair spoke so feelingly in his eloquent 2003 address to Congress—believe that it was his responsibility to protect the Iraqi people and the world from Saddam Hussein? What did all that have to do with him?

Americanism is potent stuff. It is every bit as fervent and passionate a religion as the anti-Americanism it challenges and rebukes.
II

That Americanism is a religion is widely agreed. G.K. Chesterton called America “the nation with the soul of a church.” But Americanism is not (contrary to the views of many people who use these terms loosely) a “secular” or a “civil” religion. No mere secular ideology, no mere philosophical belief, could possibly have inspired the intensities of hatred and devotion that Americanism has. Americanism is in fact a Judeo-Christian religion; a millenarian religion; a biblical religion. Unlike England’s “official” religion, embodied in the Anglican church, America’s has been incorporated into all the Judeo-Christian religions in the nation.

Does that make it impossible to believe in a secular Americanism? Can you be an agnostic or atheist or Buddhist or Muslim and a believing American too? In each case the answer is yes. But to accomplish that feat is harder than most people realize. The Bible is not merely the fertile soil that brought Americanism forth. It is the energy source that makes it live and thrive; that makes believing Americans willing to prescribe freedom, equality, and democracy even for a place like Afghanistan, once regarded as perhaps the remotest region on the face of the globe. If you undertake to remove Americanism from its native biblical soil, you had better connect it to some other energy source potent enough to keep its principles alive and blooming.

But is it not true that the Declaration of Independence—one of America’s holiest writings—treats religion in a cool, Enlightenment sort of way? It does. But we ought to keep in mind an observation by the historian Ralph Barton Perry. The Declaration, Perry reminds us, was an ex post facto justification of American beliefs. It was addressed to educated elite opinion, especially abroad; it was designed to win arguments, not to capture the essence of Americanism as Americans themselves understood it. That essence emerges in the less guarded pronouncements of the Founding Fathers and many other leading exponents and prophets of Americanism, from Winthrop and Bradford through John Adams and Jefferson through Lincoln and Wilson, Truman, Reagan.

Few believing Americans can show, nowadays, how Americanism’s principles are derived from the Bible. But many are willing to say that these principles are God-given. Freedom comes from God, George W. Bush has said more than once; and if you pressed him, I suspect you would discover that not only does he say it, he believes it. Many Americans all over the country agree with him. The idea of a “secular” Americanism based on the Declaration of Independence is an optical illusion.

III

Suppose you were to put together a bookful of pronouncements and predictions about America’s destiny, ranging over four centuries. What title would you give it?

Such an anthology did appear in 1971; it was edited by an associate professor of religious studies and subtitled “Religious Interpretations of American Destiny.” The book’s main title was God’s New Israel. From the 17th century through John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Americans kept talking about their country as if it were the biblical Israel and they were the chosen people.

Where did that view of America come from? It came from Puritanism—Puritanism being not a separate type of Christianity but a certain approach to Protestantism. And here is a strange fact about Puritanism. It originated in 16th-century England; it became one of the most powerful forces in religious if not all human history. It consistently elicited bitter hatred—and was directly responsible for (at least) two world-changing developments. It provoked the British Civil War (in which the Puritans and Parliament asserted their rights against the crown and the established church), and the first settlements by British religious dissenters in the new world.

And then it simply disappeared. In the late 1700’s or early 1800’s, Puritanism dropped out of history. Traces survived in Britain and (even more so) in America, in the form of churches once associated with it. But after the 18th century, we barely hear about Puritanism as a live force; before long everyone agrees that it is dead.

What happened to it? In a narrow sense, Puritan congregations sometimes liberalized and became Unitarian; the Transcendentalists, prominent in American literature from roughly 1820 through 1860, are often described as the spiritual successors of the Puritans. But Puritanism was too potent, too vibrant simply to vanish. Where did all that powerful religious passion go?

Puritanism had two main elements: the Calvinist belief in predestination with associated religious doctrines, and what we might call a “political” doctrine. The “political” goal of Puritanism was to reach back to the pure Christianity of the New Testament—and then even farther back. Puritans spoke of themselves as God’s new chosen people, living in God’s new promised land—in short, as God’s new Israel.

I believe that Puritanism did not drop out of history. It transformed itself into Americanism. This new religion was the end-stage of Puritanism: Puritanism realized among God’s self-proclaimed “new” chosen people—or, in Abraham Lincoln’s remarkable phrase, God’s “almost chosen people.”

Many thinkers have noted that Americanism is inspired by or close to or intertwined with Puritanism. One of the most impressive scholars to say so recently is Samuel Huntington, in his formidable book on American identity, Who Are We? But my thesis is that Puritanism did not merely inspire or influence Americanism; it turned into Americanism. Puritanism and Americanism are not just parallel or related developments; they are two stages of a single phenomenon.

This is an unprovable proposition. But as a way of looking at things, it buys us something valuable. Consider: Puritanism was shared by people of many faiths, at any rate within Protestant Christianity. You could find Puritans in Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches, and in Baptist and Quaker churches; some Puritans never left the Episcopalian or Anglican church, and eventually you could find Puritans in Methodist churches, too. Later, as I have noted, you could even find them in Unitarian churches—despite Unitarianism’s dramatic disagreements with other forms of Protestantism.

Americanism has these same peculiar properties, and takes them a step further. It, too, is a religion professed by people of many different faiths. Because of its “political” or biblical aspect, specifically its “Old Testament” focus, it was destined ultimately to be at home not merely in many kinds of Protestant churches but in every congregation that venerated the Hebrew Bible—in American Protestant churches, American Catholic churches, and American synagogues. This may seem like a strange set of attributes for a Judeo-Christian religion—yet Puritanism itself had the same attributes.

IV

If Americanism is the end-stage of political Puritanism, which in turn was the yearning to live in contact with God as a citizen of God’s new Israel, what is its creed?

The idea of an “American creed” has been around for a long time. Huntington lists its elements as “liberty, equality, democracy, individualism, human rights, the rule of law, and private property.” I prefer a different formulation: a conceptual triangle in which one fundamental fact creates two premises that create three conclusions.

The fundamental fact: the Bible is God’s word. Two premises: first, every member of the American community has his own individual dignity, insofar as he deals individually with God; second, the community has a divine mission to all mankind. Three conclusions: every human being everywhere is entitled to freedom, equality, and democracy.

In the American creed, both premises and all three conclusions refer back to the Bible, especially the Hebrew Bible. Americans have defined the “community” of the premises more and more broadly over the years, until it has grown to encompass the whole population of adult citizens—thus bringing the premises gradually into line with the universal conclusions. Today there is pressure to define the community more broadly still, so that it includes (for example) illegal as well as legal residents.

Freedom, equality, democracy: the Declaration held these truths to be self-evident, but “self-evident” they were certainly not. Otherwise, America would hardly have been the first nation in history to be built on this foundation. Deriving all three from the Bible, theologians of Americanism understood these doctrines not as philosophical ideas but as the word of God. Hence the fervor and passion with which Americans believe their creed. Americans, virtually alone in the world, insist that freedom, equality, and democracy are right not only for France and Spain but for Afghanistan and Iraq.

V

How are the creed’s three conclusions derived from the Bible? Freedom is the message of the Exodus, one of the Hebrew Bible’s great underlying themes. Bible readers believed that the Exodus story predicted the fate of nations. The literary scholar David Jeffrey names three major works that “illustrate the power of the Exodus story in the formation of American national identity”: Samuel Mather’s Figures and Types of the Old Testament (1673), Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana (a history of 17th-century New England, 1702), and Jeremiah Romayne’s The American Israel (1795).

In 1777 Nicholas Street preached in East Haven, Connecticut:

The British tyrant is only acting over the same wicked and cruel part, that Pharaoh king of Egypt acted toward the children of Israel some 3,000 years ago.
The same day the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were appointed as a committee to propose a seal for the brand-new United States. Given what we know about Americanism, it is hardly surprising that they suggested an image of Israel crossing the Red Sea and Moses lit by the pillar of fire, with the motto: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” (The seal was never adopted, but a copy of the recommendation survives in the papers of the Continental Congress.)

Next, equality. Equality was connected with Genesis—every man is created in God’s image—and also with the powerful anti-monarchy message delivered by the prophet Samuel. Abraham Lincoln took the largest and most important step in American history toward putting this part of the creed into effect, and also gave the clearest exposition of its biblical roots. Citing the words of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln said:

This was [the Founding Fathers’] lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity.
A near-relative of Lincoln’s argument appears in one of the first documents of colonial American history, Alexander Whitaker’s Good Newes From Virginia of 1613. Whitaker urges that the Indians be well treated; after all, “One God created us, they have reasonable soules and intellectuall faculties as well as wee; we all have Adam for our common parent: yea, by nature the condition of us both is all one.”

There is also a remarkable similarity between Lincoln’s thought and a rabbinic midrash according to which a phrase in Genesis—“these are the archives of Adam’s descendants”—is the single greatest statement in the Torah. Why? Because it teaches that all men, being descended from the same ancestors, are equal in dignity.




Of the creed’s three elements, democracy might seem the least likely to be traced back to biblical sources—but Americans of past ages knew the Bible much better than we do. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, often called the “first written constitution of modern democracy,” were inspired not by democratic Athens or republican Rome or Enlightenment philosophy but by a Puritan preacher’s interpretation of a verse in the Hebrew Bible. They were drafted in May 1638, in response to a sermon by Thomas Hooker before the general assembly in Hartford.

Hooker cited the biblical passage, “Take ye wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you” (Deuteronomy 1:13). This he interpreted to mean “that the choice of public magistrate belongs unto the people, by God’s own allowance. . . . The foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people.”

Hooker’s interpretation was hardly novel or eccentric. Many preachers knew and believed the same thing. In 1780, roughly a century and a half after Hooker’s epoch-making sermon, with the Revolutionary War under way, Pastor Simeon Howard of Boston was pondering the new nation’s government. He too decided—on the basis of this same passage, and of the classical Jewish historian Josephus—that America should be a democratic republic.

Howard’s advice was as radical as it was straightforward, as avant-garde as it was Puritan, Bible-centered, and godly. “In compliance with the advice of Jethro,” he preached,

Moses chose able men, and made them rulers [over the Israelites in the desert]; but it is generally supposed that they were chosen by the people [emphasis added]. This is asserted by Josephus, and plainly intimated by Moses in his recapitulary discourse, recorded in the first chapter of Deuteronomy.
Historians have pointed out that the clergy wielded far more influence over the colonial public than a Tom Paine or John Locke did. In 1776, three-quarters of American citizens were Puritan. Puritans have long been classified as strait-laced, dour, and joyless, far from passionate revolutionaries or radical democrats. Like nearly all stereotypes, these are partly true—but they are a long way from the whole truth.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that not even a third of American journalists have “a great deal of confidence” that the American electorate makes correct choices at the polls. The Puritans thought otherwise, and so did Abraham Lincoln. The historian William Wolf cites Lincoln’s belief “that God’s will is ultimately to be known through the people.” Lincoln said: “I must trust in that Supreme Being who has never forsaken this favored land, through the instrumentality of this great and intelligent people.” What chance is there that American journalists or professors or school-teachers would describe Americans today as “this great and intelligent people”?

VI

We can go further. To sum up Americanism’s creed as freedom, equality, and democracy for all is to state only half the case. The other half deals with a promised land, a chosen people, and a universal, divinely ordained mission. This part of Americanism is the American version of biblical Zionism: in short, American Zionism.

The relation between Americanism and American Zionism is something like the relation between Anglicanism and Anglo-Catholicism. Anglo-Catholicism is Anglicanism, but the name was invented to underline the closeness between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. The term “American Zionism” similarly underlines the closeness between Americanism and the biblical idea of a divinely chosen people and promised land.

When I say that Americanism equals American Zionism, I am in one sense merely adding up statements by eminent authorities. John Winthrop in 1630: “Wee shall finde that the God of Israell is among us.” Thomas Jefferson in his Second Inaugural address: “I shall need . . . the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life.” (The last phrase is an update of the Bible’s “flowing with milk and honey.”) Abraham Lincoln declared his wish to be a “humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty and of this, His almost chosen people.”

Hundreds of other statements along the same lines might be gathered from the whole formative period of Americanism, from the early 1600’s through the Civil War. Among the most striking is one of the earliest, from the famous journal of William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation. Once the Pilgrims had landed in the new world, Bradford writes, “What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?” And he continues:

May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: “Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in the wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity,” etc.
Bradford is paraphrasing verses from Deuteronomy (26:5 ff.) that read (in the Geneva Bible of 1560, which Puritans preferred to the King James version): “A Syrian was my father, who being ready to perish for hunger, went downe into Egypte. . . . When we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voyce, & looked on our adversitie.”

The Bible reports that the Israelites were instructed to speak these verses when they brought the year’s first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem, there to recall publicly the Lord’s gift of the promised land. Bradford was equating the arrival of Englishmen in Plymouth with the arrival of the wandering Israelites in the promised land. The same verses play a central role in the Haggadah recited by Jews on Passover to this day—although Bradford could not have known that. Showing an uncanny tendency to think like a Jew, he singled them out on his own, and put them at the center of his own version of (what we might call) a Pilgrim seder.1

Evidently the historian Samuel Eliot Morison did not realize the Passover significance of these verses, either. His scrupulous edition of Bradford’s journal is the scholarly standard, with plenty of footnotes—but none at this point. In other places where Bradford quotes or paraphrases the Hebrew Bible without giving a citation, it is not quite clear whether or not Morison has picked up the reference. Yet you cannot really understand the Pilgrims, or Puritans in general, unless you know the Hebrew Bible and classical Jewish history; knowing Judaism itself also helps. But people with this sort of basic knowledge have rarely bothered to study the Puritans, and those who study the Puritans have rarely bothered to know what the Puritans knew.

Early exponents of Americanism tended to define even their own Christianity in ways that make it sound like Judaism. Thus John Winthrop: “the onely way to avoyde this shipwracke [of angering the lord] and to provide for our posterity is to followe the Counsell of Micah, to doe Justly, to love mercy, to walke humbly with our God.” Lincoln, a profoundly religious man, refused all his life to join a church. But he did make the celebrated assertion that he would join a church whose entire creed was “what our lord said were the two great commandments, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and mind and soul and strength, and my neighbor as myself.” He was referring to the Gospel passage in which Jesus cites these two verses from the Hebrew Bible as the essence of Christianity.

I do not claim that Lincoln, Winthrop, and Bradford were crypto-Jews. They were not. The point is that classical Israel’s (and classical Zionism’s) contribution to Americanism is incalculable. No modern historian or thinker I am aware of—not Huntington or Morison or Perry or Mead or Perry Miller or even Martin Marty or Sydney Ahlstrom—has done justice to this extraordinary fact. They seem to have forgotten what the eminent 19th-century Irish historian William Lecky recognized: that “Hebraic mortar cemented the foundations of American democracy.” And even Lecky, I suspect, did not grasp the full extent of this truth. Unless we do grasp it, we can never fully understand Americanism—or anti-Americanism.

VII

There have been at least four crucial turning points—“climacterics,” Churchill would have called them—at which Americans spoke explicitly and simultaneously about the religious content and the world mission of Americanism. The first was when the colonies declared their independence. Here is Dr. Banfield, in 1783:

’Twas [God] who raised a Joshua to lead the tribes of Israel in the field of battle; raised and formed a Washington to lead on the troops of his chosen States. ’Twas He who in Barak’s day spread the spirit of war in every breast to shake off the Canaanitish yoke, and inspired thy inhabitants, O America!
In 1799, with the Great Republic safely established, Abiel Abbot delivered a Thanksgiving sermon:

It has been often remarked that the people of the United States come nearer to a parallel with Ancient Israel, than any other nation upon the globe. Hence OUR AMERICAN ISRAEL is a term frequently used; and our common consent allows it apt and proper.
Washington’s early biographer Jared Sparks quotes him to the effect that “there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs than those of the United States.”

The second climacteric was the Civil War. Lincoln’s understanding of that conflict, writes Edmund Wilson, “grew out of the religious tradition of the New England theology of Puritanism.” In 1862, Lincoln made “a solemn vow before God” to free the South’s slaves. William Wolf notes that this vow was “more in conformance with Old Testament than with New Testament religion,” was “imbedded in Lincoln’s biblical piety,” and “came to him as part of the religious heritage of the nation.” The “climactic expression of his biblical faith,” according to Wolf, was the Second Inaugural address:

It reads like a supplement to the Bible. In it there are fourteen references to God, four direct quotations from Genesis, Psalms, and Matthew, and other allusions to scriptural teaching.
“We can appreciate even in these few words,” writes Sidney Ahlstrom of the Second Inaugural, “the astounding profundity of this self-educated child of the frontier, this son of a Hard-shell Baptist who never lost hold of the proposition that nations and men are instruments of the Almighty.” If Americanism is a religion, this is its holiest document after the Bible and the Declaration; and Lincoln is its greatest prophet.




World War I marked the third turning point: America stepped forward to assume its role as a world power. It happened under President Woodrow Wilson, the son and grandson of Presbyterian ministers.

Many people found Wilson hard to take. At the end of his career, on his return from negotiations in Paris at the close of the war, he went down in flames—shot out of the sky like the Red Baron by a Senate and nation unwilling to join the League of Nations, which Wilson had more or less invented, or ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which he championed.

Yet Wilson stands right at the center of classical Americanism. No President spoke the language of Bible and divine mission more lucidly. His First Inaugural address was composed in pure and perfect American, Lincoln-inspired:

The nation has been deeply stirred by a solemn passion, stirred by the knowledge of wrong, of ideals lost, of government too often debauched and made an instrument of evil. The feelings with which we face this new age of right and opportunity sweep across our heartstrings like some air out of God’s own presence, where justice and mercy are reconciled and the judge and the brother are one.
During Wilson’s administration, Americanism accomplished a fundamental transition. It had always included the idea of divine mission. But what was the mission? Until the closing of the frontier in the last decade of the 19th century, the mission was to populate the continent. With the frontier closed, the mission became “Americanism for the whole world.” Of this transition, the historian William Leuchtenberg writes:

The United States believed that American moral idealism could be extended outward, that American Christian democratic ideals could and should be universally applied. . . . The culmination of a long political tradition of emphasis on sacrifice and decisive moral combat, the [world] war was embraced as that final struggle where the righteous would do battle for the Lord.
In his speech asking for a declaration of war, Wilson told Congress that “The world must be made safe for democracy”—a much-ridiculed phrase, and one that captures perfectly America’s sense of obligation to spread its own way of life and its own good fortune. In another speech, this one explaining American war aims and intended for German consumption, Wilson concluded with these words about America: “God helping her, she can do no other.” The historian Mark Sullivan comments:

Probably not one in a hundred of his American hearers recognized that paraphrase of Martin Luther’s declaration, immortal to every German Lutheran, “Ich kann nicht anders” (I can do no other).
And so we circle back to the beginnings of Protestantism, which begot Puritanism, which begot Americanism.

The final climacteric was the cold war—its start and its finish. Franklin D. Roosevelt had taken the United States into World War II, but stubbornly refused to accept Churchill’s diagnosis of Stalin as a ruthless imperialist. His successor, Harry Truman, followed FDR’s path—at first. But in 1946 Truman changed course dramatically. When Britain was no longer able to prop up the non-Communist governments of Greece and Turkey, Truman decided that the U.S. must take over that soon-to-lapse commitment. He announced the Truman Doctrine. From then on, the Soviets would no longer be allowed unlimited scope for their imperialist ambitions; the United States had decided to get into the game.

Truman’s announcement was in the spirit of classical Americanism. It recognized America’s message and duty to all mankind:

I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressure. . . . The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms.
Although historians often skip over this point, Truman’s world-view centered on the Bible nearly to the extent Lincoln’s had. By his own account, he had read through the Bible three times by age fourteen; he read it through seven times more during the years of his presidency. It shaped his understanding of the American enterprise. Truman makes this remarkable comment in his Memoirs: “What came about in Philadelphia in 1776 really had its beginning in Hebrew times.”

The end of the cold war was presided over by Ronald Reagan, who returns us (once again) to the nation’s beginning. In one of his best-remembered phrases, Reagan declared that America was and must always be the “shining city upon a hill.” John Winthrop had conceived this idea aboard the Arabella bound for Massachusetts Bay in 1630. The phrase goes back to Matthew (“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid”), and indirectly to the prophet Isaiah (“In the end of days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and many nations shall flow unto it”). Reagan’s use of these words connected modern America to the humane Christian vision—the Puritan vision—the vision (ultimately) of the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish people—that created this nation.

VIII

Some agreed with Ronald Reagan and some disagreed. Some approved of him and some disapproved. Yet, to a remarkable extent, those who hated him are the ones who hate America—for many of the same religion-mocking reasons that made them ridicule Woodrow Wilson.

The great British economist John Maynard Keynes had this to say regarding Wilson’s behavior at the Paris Peace Conference: “Now it was that what I have called his theological or Presbyterian temperament became dangerous.” Wilson’s idealistic peace plan—the “Fourteen Points”—became, according to Keynes, “a document for gloss and interpretation and for all the intellectual apparatus of self-deception, by which, I daresay, the President’s forefathers had persuaded themselves that the course they thought it necessary to take was consistent with every syllable of the Pentateuch.”

The British diplomat Harold Nicholson concurred. He described Wilson as “the descendant of Covenanters, the inheritor of a more immediate Presbyterian tradition. That spiritual arrogance which seems inseparable from the harder forms of religion had eaten deep into his soul.”

The same type of accusation would be directed at Ronald Reagan. On the occasion of his “evil empire” speech, for example, the columnist Mary McGrory called Reagan’s denunciation of the Soviet Union “a marvelous parody of a revivalist minister.” Another journalist, Colman McCarthy, wrote that Reagan had descended “to the level of Ayatollah Khomeini”—to the level, that is, of an enemy of mankind who uses religion to do evil.

That Americanism is the successor of Puritanism is crucial to anti-Americanism. In the 18th century, anti-Americans were conservative, monarchist anti-Puritans. (Boswell reports Samuel Johnson’s announcement that “I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.”) In the 19th century, European elites became increasingly hostile to Christianity—which inevitably entailed hostility to America. In modern times, anti-Americanism is closely associated with anti-Christianism and anti-Semitism.2

Anti-Americans are still fascinated and enraged by Americans’ bizarre tendency to believe in God. In the months before the Iraq war in spring 2003, a Norwegian demonstrator waved a placard reading, “Will Bush Go to Hell?” An expatriate American wrote recently (for the FrontPage website) of being instructed by Londoners that “the United States is one giant fundamentalist Christian nation peopled by raging Bible-thumpers on every street”; that America is “running wild with religious extremism that threatens the world far more than bin Laden.”

And we needn’t go to Norway or Britain to find angry denunciations of President Bush and the Americans who support him in religion-mocking terms. The President’s faith, said one prominent American politician in September 2004, is “the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, and in many religions around the world.”

The speaker was former Vice President Al Gore. His comments were offensive and false. Today’s radical Islam is a religion of death, a religion that rejoices in slaughter. The radical Christianity known as Puritanism insisted on choosing life. Americanism does, too.

Puritans took to heart these famous words from the Hebrew Bible: “I have set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life and live, you and your children” (Deuteronomy 30:19). On board the Arabella, John Winthrop closed his famous meditation of 1630 by citing that verse from Deuteronomy, centering his words on the page for emphasis:

Therefore let us choose life

that wee, and our Seede,

may live; by obeying his

voice, and cleaveing to him,

for hee is our life, and

our prosperity.

No Saudi fanatic, no Kashmiri fanatic could have written those words. John Winthrop was a founder of this nation; we are his heirs; and we ought to thank God that we have inherited his humanitarian decency along with his radical, God-fearing Americanism.

DAVID GELERNTER is a professor of computer science at Yale and the author of Machine Beauty, Drawing Life, 1939, and other books. His novella, “Swan House,” appeared in our July-August 2004 issue; “Judaism Beyond Words,” a five-part series, was published in 2002 and 2003. The present article, in different form, was given as a lecture sponsored by Susan and Roger Hertog in New York in October of last year.

1 One day, it seems to me, there will be a Thanksgiving Haggadah for Americans to recite at the national holiday Lincoln proclaimed. I have in mind an actual document telling the story of Puritan sufferings in England; of America’s birth; of the bloody Civil War struggle to realize the creed’s promises; of repeated re-enactments of the Exodus that make up America’s history—interspersed with passages from the English Bible. This is a project I’m at work on myself.

2 It has been many centuries since Christians in the West have been routine objects of organized hatred; they do not even have a word for it. But they had better find one.


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Monday, January 10, 2005

CBS ousts four for roles in Bush Guard story

Mary Mapes, the liberal, lying zealot and three other CBS news executives finally walk the plank for trying to influence the election with a story not even fit for the supermarket tabloids--Dan Rather should be shown the door as well

Report: Network ignored journalistic principles in rush to be first

MSNBC staff and news service reports

Four CBS executives were fired Monday following the release of an independent investigation that said a “myopic zeal” led to a “60 Minutes Wednesday” story about President Bush’s military service that relied on allegedly forged documents.

The 224-page report by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and former Associated Press President Louis Boccardi did not directly fault the correspondent on the Sept. 8 story, Dan Rather, who is stepping down as anchor of "CBS Evening News" in March.

While the investigation found the network failed to follow basic journalistic principles in preparing the "60 Minutes Wednesday" piece, it said it found no evidence that a political agenda by network officials contributed to the decision to air it.

‘Myopic zeal’
The investigators wrote that a “myopic zeal” to break the story and faulted the highly respected producer of the segment, Mary Mapes, in explaining why CBS News had produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet the organization’s internal standards.

“The combination of a new 60 Minutes Wednesday management team, great deference given to a highly respected producer and the network’s news anchor, competitive pressures, and a zealous belief in the truth of the segment seem to have led many to disregard some fundamental journalistic principles," it said.

The story, which aired on Sept. 8, relied on four documents allegedly written by one of Bush's Texas Air National Guard commanders in the early 1970s to raise questions about whether he had fulfilled his obligations. Questions about the authenticity of the documents were raised almost immediately, with some experts saying that it appeared they were written on a computer not invented at the time.

Although the panel said it couldn't prove conclusively the documents were forged, it said CBS News failed to authenticate them and falsely claimed an expert had done so when all he had done was authenticate one signature.

A statement from CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves detailing the network’s response to the investigation said that network executives had asked for the resignations of Senior Vice President Betsy West, who supervised CBS News primetime programs; “60 Minutes Wednesday” Executive Producer Josh Howard; and Howard’s deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy. Mapes, the producer of the piece, was terminated, it said.

In assessing Rather's role in the debacle, the report said the veteran anchorman "does not appear to have participated in any of the vetting sessions or to have even seen the segment before it was aired." It noted that he was busy overseeing coverage of the GOP convention and Hurricane Frances in Florida at the time.

Moonves said in his statement that Rather "asked the right questions initially, but then made the same errors of credulity and over-enthusiasm that beset many of his colleagues in regard to this segment."

Given Rather's apology and announcement that he was stepping down, Moonves said further action against Rather was not warranted.

CBS News president urged caution
CBS News President Andrew Heyward kept his job. The panel said Heyward had explicitly urged caution before the report aired.

The report also said CBS News had compounded the failure to properly vet the report with a “rigid and blind” defense. Rather and the network stood behind the story for 12 days before conceding that the authenticity of the documents could not be confirmed and ordering the independent investigation.

It also noted that Heyward ordered West two days after the report aired to review the opinions of document examiners and confidential sources who had supported the story, but said no such investigation was done.

"Had this directive been followed promptly, the panel does not believe that `60 Minutes Wednesday' would have publicly defended the segment for another 10 days," the panelists said.

The documents at the center of the report were purported to be from the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, one of Bush's commanders in the Texas Air National Guard. Among them were a purported order from Killian for to report for his annual physical exam and a discussion of how Bush could get out of "coming to drill." Killian also reportedly felt pressured to sugarcoat an evaluation of then 1st Lt. Bush.

Moonves said the investigators spoke with more than 66 people, including 32 from CBS News, handwriting experts, former Texas Air National Guardsmen and others in preparing their report.

CBS is part of media conglomerate Viacom Inc., whose shares were up 22 cents at $38.30 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.


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Let Bin Laden stay free, says CIA man

Tony Allen-Mills

The London Times

THE world may be better off if Osama Bin Laden remains at large, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s recently departed executive director.
If the world’s most wanted terrorist is captured or killed, a power struggle among his Al-Qaeda subordinates may trigger a wave of terror attacks, said AB “Buzzy” Krongard, who stepped down six weeks ago as the CIA’s third most senior executive.

“You can make the argument that we’re better off with him (at large),” Krongard said. “Because if something happens to Bin Laden, you might find a lot of people vying for his position and demonstrating how macho they are by unleashing a stream of terror.”

Krongard, a former investment banker who joined the CIA in 1998, said Bin Laden’s role among Islamic militants was changing.

“He’s turning into more of a charismatic leader than a terrorist mastermind,” he said. “Some of his lieutenants are the ones to worry about.”

Krongard, 68, said he viewed Bin Laden “not as a chief executive but more like a venture capitalist”.

He added: “Let’s say you and I want to blow up Trafalgar Square. So we go to Bin Laden. And he’ll say, ‘Well, here’s some money and some passports and if you need weapons, see this guy’.

“I don’t see him keeping his fingers on everything because the lines of communications are just too difficult.”

Several US officials have privately admitted that it may be better to keep Bin Laden pinned down on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan rather than make him a martyr or put him on trial. But Krongard is the most senior figure to acknowledge publicly that his capture might prove counter-productive.

Krongard also acknowledged that the CIA was still having trouble planting spies in Islamic militant ranks. “There are hundreds and hundreds of (Al-Qaeda) cells — it’s like a living, moving bit of protoplasm,” he said.

“In order to penetrate you not only have to be language-proficient, you also have to commit acts that exceed criminality. It’s very hard.”

His comments came as it emerged that new laws to combat the Al-Qaeda threat in Britain and keep the Belmarsh terror suspects in jail will be unveiled next month.

The draft terrorism bill will propose that “acts preparatory to terrorism” become a criminal offence to catch those who provide accommodation, finance, identity papers and other support. The bill will prove controversial because it could be applied restrospectively against many of the 11 foreign terror suspects being detained in Belmarsh, south London, and Broadmoor secure hospital.

Charles Clarke, the home secretary, is also planning to announce a civil punishment for those suspected of “associating” with terrorist suspects, but where there is insufficient proof to press charges



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At least Newt seems to get it

With Islamists in mind, Gingrich mulls 2008 presidential run

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Trailblazing ideologue Newt Gingrich, who engineered the 1994 Republican takeover of the US House of Representatives, said he may run for president in 2008, promising to fight what he calls "an Islamist insurgency against the modern world."

He also spoke about a need to center US society around religious values formulated by "our Creator."

Aspirations of the former House speaker have been an enigma in the US capital since his 1998 resignation from Congress following his party's losses in mid-tern elections.

But when asked on the "Fox News Sunday" television show if a presidential run was in his plans, Gingrich answered: "I'm not ruling that out."


The darling of US conservatives did not elaborate, but he already has something resembling an electoral platform: his book "Winning the Future," which goes on sale Monday.


The mid-sized tome promotes what is being described as Gingrich's vision of America's greatness in the 21st century, including his plan for winning the war on terror, re-establishing God in American public life, reforming the underfunded Social Security (news - web sites) pension system, restoring patriotism, and making US health care more accessible.


In a portion of the book made available to AFP, Gingrich argues the United States faces two immediate opponents: "the irreconcilable wing of Islam" and dictatorships that, in his words, empower radical Islamists.


But in contrast with President George W. Bush (news - web sites), who insists that Muslim radicals are driven by their hatred of Western values, Gingrich believe the world is witnessing a global civil war between the modernizing and irreconcilable wings of Islam.


"This war is not primarily about terrorism," he writes, "It is about an Islamist insurgency against the modern world."


According to the former speaker, between 39 million and 52 million young men -- out of a total of 1.3 billion Muslims around the world -- could become available to Islamist recruiters as the war on terror grinds on.


Because of that, he predicts, the fight could continue for the next 20-25 years at best, or drag on for several centuries, as did the Catholic-Protestant wars during the Reformation and Counter Reformation.







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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Nutwatch 2005--Ramsey Clark Saddam's Shill

Saddam Hussein Speaks: I Prepared Current Guerrilla War Ahead of Invasion. Syria Is Next

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

On December 16, the deposed Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein was allowed to see his lawyer, Khalil Duleimi for the first time. With no one else present and no time limit, Saddam spoke his mind freely. Later, the lawyer went straight from Saddam’s cell to Amman to confer with the rest of the legal team, which Ramsey Clark, Lyndon Johnson’s attorney general, had meanwhile joined. Clark explained he felt the need to defend the former Iraqi president’s rights. He declare the special court set up by the interim Iraqi government to try Saddam was not legal and that the United States should be tried instead for its assault on Fallujah, abuse of Iraqi prisoners and responsibility for the death of thousands of Iraqis in the course of the war.

After briefing the legal team, Duleimi granted an interview to the Lebanese journalist Shahbana Khalil, who had been very close to the Saddam when he was in power. He conferred on her a number of decorations and gave her exclusive stories on happenings in Iraq and the Arab world.

DEBKAfile’s Exclusive Middle East sources reveal here the main contents of the Duleimi’s briefing to his fellow lawyers and the account of his conversation with Saddam to his journalist friend.

The ex-ruler is in good health, the lawyer reported, and says he is in even better shape physically than he was in March 2003 ahead of the war. Now and again he gets sharp twinges of pain in his left shin.

Saddam is confined to a cell of five by three meters with no window. Sometimes he is let out to a 15 by 5 meter unroofed hall where he can see the sky. The food he says is good. The American warders do not talk to him but the Iraqi officers who accompany them address him as “Mr. President.”

The former Iraqi dictator is cut off from the outside world. Despite some reports, he has no access to newspapers, radio or television. He has received only two letters from his close family, the contents of which were mostly deleted or cut out by the censors. He spends most of his time writing but would not disclose his subjects, except to say that some of it is poetry. Duleimi quoted a line of Saddam’s “verse:” “If you can’t be the head, don’t be the backside because there is nothing there but a tail.”

He had two main gripes. One was that the Americans will not let him shave his beard despite his repeated requests. He even offered to let a US military barber shave him, but they refused. His theory is that the Americans want to make sure that whenever he appears in public, as he did on June 30, 2004 before an Iraqi investigating judge, he will look confused, unkempt and too low in spirits to bother to shave.

His second complaint was against the Red Cross workers. He wanted their visits stopped because he said they are neither polite nor respectful.

Duleimi spent four hours talking to Saddam Hussein alone in his cell. The conversation was interrupted twice when the ex-ruler performed Muslim ablution rites and prayed. He said he had read the small Koran with him many times from beginning to end.

He also asked the lawyer for news from the outside world. He did not know that Spain had pulled its troops out of Iraq after the March 2004 Madrid rail attack, but was pleased to hear it. He had not known of Yasser Arafat’s death last November but made no comment.

After hearing Duleimi out, Saddam asked to convey his regards to three people: the American lawyer Ramsey Clark for joining his defense, Malaysian ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohammed, and independent British party leader George Galloway (whom the London Telegraph had to pay $150,000 in damages for reporting he was bribed to support Saddam Hussein).

He also asked to send his respects to the Egyptian journalist Mustafa Bakri who has a program on Arabic al Jazeera television. DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources reported in the past that, before the Saddam regime was overthrown, Bakri was in cahoots with Iraqi intelligence officials at Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

The next part of the conversation Saddam devoted to a long dissertation on the situation in Iraq, past and present. Recalling the Muslim adage advising believers to stick together and cling to Allah, he stressed that Sunnis and Shiites must not fight but join forces in order to muster strength to stand up to the American conqueror.

“Baghdad,” he said “did not surrender nor was it conquered by the Americans but was their captive.” He claimed they had attempted to kill him in the Azamaya district of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, but failed.

Two days later, he called together the military commanders serving in the capital and its environs. They informed him they had run out of troops for conducting the war. It was then, Saddam said, “I ordered the transition to guerrilla warfare. I told the commanders: the Americans will stretch out full length across Iraq like a viper. That will be the moment to attack and lop off each section one by one.” The deposed president bragged: “All the insurgency and guerrilla operations in progress are the fruit of my decision and my pre-planning.”

Saddam admitted that there had been treachery on the part of “a very small group of Iraqi military men and politicians.” However, those who needed to know did know that the real combat against the Americans would only begin after they entered Baghdad. “That is why I ordered all the office-holders of my regime to carry on with their duties, despite the difficulties.”

He went on to disclose that, during the six months leading up to the war, several offers came from Israeli and Western sources of a deal whereby sanctions against Iraq would be called off and diplomatic relations with Washington resumed if he extended recognition to Israel. But he claims to have refused, maintaining it was impossible and forbidden to relinquish holy land.

When Duleimi informed him that five million Iranians infiltrated Iraq in advance of the January 30 elections to register as voters, Saddam retorted: “This is nothing new as far as the Persian traitors are concerned. We always knew they wanted to grab southern Iraq and that this was the objective of the Badr Brigades. Now the Americans are discovering this for themselves.”

But, he added, in any case, the Americans and Allawi will not succeed in bringing the elections off. They will fail, he declared.

Finally, the former Iraqi president said: “I fear for Syria. I warned Bashar Assad that the Americans had not only targeted Iraq, but Syria too.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources add:

Saddam Hussein touched inadvertently on the most burning issue between the Bush administration and Iraq’s interim prime minister Iyad Alawi. Ever since the December 21 suicide attack on the US forward base in Mosul, when 22 Americans were killed, Allawi has been urging Washington to launch attacks from Iraq on points in Syria – singling out military locations known to intelligence as bases used to assist and train terrorists preparatory to their infiltration of Iraq. The Iraqi prime minister believes that without military action against Syria, three key goals will remain out of reach:

1. A general election on January 30 orderly enough to be a success.

2. An effective deterrent to Tehran’s meddling in Iraq.

3. Victory in the war against the guerrillas.

Sunday, January 2, US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage arrives in Damascus with a final warning from Washington. The Syrian ruler will be informed that the administration is closer than ever before to acceding to Allawi’s demand.


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