Sunday, February 22, 2015

Countering Violent Extremism

The State Department has requested from the public ideas for countering violent extremism. I have written extensively on this and the following is a paper of mine that will be presented at the UN sponsored International Conference on The Evolution of Human Rights Concepts on March 1, 2015, in Tehran, Iran.

The paper has several parts:

“At the time of a clash of civilizations it is not unusual for both sides to re-examine, define, and even sometimes codify their basic values and cultural institutions in order to both preserve and convey their basic values and traditions. At the time of the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, the United States did this poorly. It appears that we are making a similar mistake in our war against terrorism, which is very much a battle of ideas and ideologies and will have to be understood as such for any chance of a long-term resolution and reconciliation. We are missing a defining opportunity in the history of the moral and political philosophy of the liberal tradition; first, by not defining our primary moral value as equality, understood as a respect for the dignity and worth of our common humanity; and second, by not defining our government as a constitutional democracy, which is the only way to convey both the substantive and the procedural concepts of equality that it incorporates.”

“Medical ethics have a lot to offer the larger fields of moral and political philosophy at this particular time in history, in part, because they have the capacity to accommodate pluralism in a global community without alienation or coercion.”

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Two Views on ISIS

Peggy Noonan points out the importance of the essay on The Atlantic on ISIS -- “What ISIS Really Wants” (See previous blog)

WSJ -- Peggy Noonan -- An Administration Adrift on Denial

“Why won’t the president think clearly about the nature of the Islamic State?”

“Great essays tell big truths. A deeply reported piece in next month’s Atlantic magazine does precisely that, and in a way devastating to the Obama administration’s thinking on ISIS.”

What ISIS Really Wants,” by contributing editor Graeme Wood, is going to change the debate.

Fareed Zakaria defends the president’s deliberate language of “violent extremism”

WP -- Fareed Zakaria -- The limits of the “Islamic” label

President Obama stands accused of political correctness for his unwillingness to accuse groups such as the Islamic State of “Islamic extremism,” choosing a more generic term, “violent extremism.”

"But far from being a scholar concerned with describing the phenomenon accurately, the president is deliberately choosing not to emphasize the Islamic State’s religious dimension for political and strategic reasons. After all, what would be the practical consequence of describing the group, also known as ISIS, as Islamic? Would the West drop more bombs on it? Send in more soldiers to fight it? No, but it would make many Muslims feel that their religion had been unfairly maligned. And it would dishearten Muslim leaders who have continually denounced the Islamic State as a group that does not represent Islam."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What ISIS Really Wants

The Atlantic -- Graeme Wood -- What ISIS Really Wants

"The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse."

"We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world."

"The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam."

"Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic…. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”

"In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

ISIS is what it says it is -- a radical Muslim terrorist group that uses atrocities, genocide and ethnic cleansing as philosophy and a recruiting tool.

Reuters -- Sisi warns of response after Islamic State kills 21 Egyptians in Libya

“Islamic State released a video on Sunday that appeared to show the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya”

WP -- Charles Krathammer -- Crusaders and Appeasers

“This passivity — strategic, syntactical, ideological — is more than just a reaction to the perceived overreach of the Bush years. Or a fear of failure. Or bowing to the domestic left. It is, above all, rooted in Obama’s deep belief that we — America, Christians, the West — lack the moral authority to engage, to project, i.e., to lead.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Burdens on the Working Middle Class

The working middle class has been paying for corruption and greed at the top of our economic system and for entitlements at the bottom of our economic system. The Democrats want to focus just on the corporations and the top 1%. The Republicans want to focus on entitlements and the unsustainable rising national debt.

Remember that stealing just $500 is a felony. The very large regulatory fees which have been paid by just about every bank, insurance company, pharmaceutical company, and investment company are just considered the cost of doing business.

S&P got off easy

HSBC's clients linked to dictators, arms dealers and tax dodgers

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Opposing ISIS

BBC -- Islamic State: Mid-East press urges Islamic discourse reform

Amid the condemnations, commentators are discussing new ways to fight IS ideologically, two days after the jihadist group circulated a 20-minute graphic video showing Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burnt alive.

WP -- Obama warns at National Prayer Breakfast of those who use religion to wage war

“We see faith driving us to do right,” Obama said. “We also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge, or worse, sometimes as a weapon.”

CBS News - Jordan bombs ISIS targets, vows to "eliminate" militants

"For you, the enemies of Islam," read one message.

Leaders of Germany and France launch new diplomatic effort to ease Ukraine crisis

BBC -- Ukraine crisis: Leaders in new diplomatic push for peace

Maybe you missed this one.

BBC -- Russia: Vodka minimum price cut over economic woes

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Three views on Foreign Policy

RealClearPolitics -- Obama Dithers While Terrorism Escalates

Many liberals give to Islam a deference they accord no other religion, which is odd, since so many radical adherents commit genocide, torture gays, treat women as chattels.

To defeat an enemy, the first, indispensable step is to know him, said Sun Tzu, after 2,500 years still considered the greatest strategist of all time.

NY Times -- Retroactively Authorizing War

They went largely unnoticed, four words President Obama ad-libbed during the State of the Union address last month as he asked lawmakers to provide legal cover for America’s military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

WP -- Will Washington allow the pursuit of positive foreign policy?

President Obama’s trip to India was strategically important, symbolically resonant and deftly executed.

If the United States can partner with India and Indonesia (in addition to its alliance with Japan), it is far more likely that Asia — and the world — will be characterized by free trade, multilateralism and rules-based systems. Stronger relations with Indonesia could have an impact on the broader debate about reform in the Muslim world.

Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush

Fox News -- Romney announces he will not run for president in 2016

"I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee," Romney said. "In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case." -- CHUCK TODD: THIS WAS ABOUT JEB BUSH IMMIGRATION FEUD WITH ROMNEY

"Romney was Jeb’s candidate in early ’07, and Romney flipped on immigration and Jeb never forgave him. He thought the way he used immigration as a wedge against McCain, he never forgave him."