It’s no fun being Cassandra….

Poor Cassandra was cursed by the Gods with the gift of making accurate prophecies that no one would believe.  The disasters she foresaw always came true, but she was helpless to stop people (and nations) from racing towards their doom.  The endings were always so terrible — and Cassandra was herself swept up in them — that she never even got the consolation of a good “I told you so.”

Ever since Obimbo appeared on the scene, we at Bookworm Room have been Cassandras.  We’ve vacillated between trying to decide whether Obama acts as he does through incompetence or malevolence, but we’ve always been clear in our own minds that his approach to the Presidency would be disastrous, both at home and abroad.  One of the things we (and by “we,” I mean my readers and I) predicted was that the Obamessiah, by creating a leadership vacuum in the space America used to fill, would release dangerous forces — just as the Soviet Union’s collapse unleashed long simmering, and quite deadly, regional rivalries in the Balkans.

The headlines now seem to bear out our worst predictions.  Just today, Danny Lemieux forwarded to me a Gateway Pundit post relaying the news that, because Saudi Arabia acted in Bahrain (yes, filling the American leadership vacuum), Iran is now rattling its sabers:

A senior Iranian legislator called on the foreign ministry to show firm reaction against deployment of Saudi military forces in Bahrain and take strong stances and measures in defense of the rights and independence of the Bahraini people.

“The foreign ministry should take a strong position against the dispatch of the Saudi forces to Bahrain” and defend the people’s move and rule over the country, Mostafa Kavakebian said in an open session of the parliament on Tuesday.

God forbid this comes to something, the regional line-up is going to be Israel and Saudi Arabia versus Iran.  What’s impossible for me to know — I simply don’t have the sechel (Yiddish:  smarts) about Middle Eastern allegiances and alliances — is where the other countries, aside from Syria and Lebanon, both already Iranian proxies, will fall when the whole thing blows.  They all hate Israel, but their degrees of loathing for Saudi Arabia and Iran are going to determine which colors they wear in this fight.

I could say “I told you so” but, Cassandra-like, I don’t have the heart to utter those words.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UN Commission on the Status of Women

Everyone is commenting on the travesty that sees countries such as the Sudan and Iran on the UN Commission on the Status of Women.  It makes perfect sense to me.  If the commission had been named “Commission for the Protection of Women,” or “Commission for the Liberation of Women,” things might have been different, but but it’s obvious that the Sudan and Iran are perfectly clear about women’s “status”:  per Allah’s inviolable decree, they are at the bottom of the pecking order and need to remain there.  At long last, these nations sit on the perfect bureaucratic vehicle for pursuing their “feminist” agenda.

Israel, American Jews, American Christians and a whole bunch of other stuff too

I struggled for a few minutes to find a clever title for this post that would convey the volume of information I’m about to download from my brain, but realized I couldn’t.  A laundry list description will just have to do.

You see, last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Hanukkah party that the NorCal chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition hosted.  What wasn’t surprising was that conservative Jews attended the party.  What was surprising was that they came from all over the Bay Area. Apparently the opportunity to get together with fellow conservative Jews is a beguiling one, even if one has to travel a hundred miles or so to do it.

What was even more surprising, and was also tremendously heartening, was the number of non-Jews who attended out of a feeling of solidarity with Israel.  It was a reminder in the flesh of the fact that America’s tiny percentage of Jews, standing alone, cannot account for America’s (not the administration’s, but America’s) long-standing support for Israel.  That strong support comes about because America’s Christian population respects and believes in that small, democratic Jewish state, a nation surrounded by hostile forces inimical, not only to Israel, but to America as well.

Another draw for the party was the speaker:  syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray.  I’ve enjoyed Joel’s writing for years, and hoped that he’d be as delightful a speaker as he is a writer (some writers, sadly, do not translate well to the spoken word).  Happily, he exceeded my expectations.  He’s a charming speaker, offering everything you’d hope for:  pleasant voice and cadence, good sense of humor, a well-informed mind, and an easy verbal lucidity.

Joel spoke about the situation in Israel today and he was surprisingly optimistic.  He says that Israel is enjoying an extremely prosperous time right now, with a growing economy and a significant lack of terrorist violence.  The targeted killings in the West Bank and Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, and the Hezbollah War all served, temporarily at least, to quiet the terrorists and give Israelis a respite. Further, the setbacks to Iran’s nuclear program, especially Stuxnet, have given the Israelis (not to mention the Arab nations around them) some breathing room.

Israelis fully understand, though, that this is merely a respite, rather than a lasting peace.  A nuclear Iran is an impossible-to-contemplate game-changer, not just in the Middle East, but throughout the world.  The Israelis are planning accordingly, both defensively and offensively.  In other words, they are being smart, rather than burying their heads in the sand.

Most of the questions in the room expressed concern about Iran and about President Obama’s manifest hostility to and disdain for Israel.  Joel believes (and I agree) that Obama will not go too far in undercutting Israel should the bombs start to fly.  He also believes (and I agree) that Americans will support Israel.  The other countries will huff and puff, in a very ugly way, but they too will be happy should Israel succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear pretensions.  As Joel pointed out, the situation in North Korea is a useful illustration of the impossible Hobson’s choice that arises when you have a rogue nation armed with nuclear weapons.

I asked Joel about American Jewish voting trends in the 2012 elections.  He said that, except for those implacably wed to liberalism, signs are good for a shift away from the Democratic party.  (To which I’ll add that we can only hope that American Jews finally start living up to their reputation for intelligence.)  It occurred to me that the recent attacks against Glenn Beck, charging him with antisemitism because he is going after George Soros, may be a preemptive attempt to keep the Jews on the Progressive reservation.

After Joel’s speech, I got the opportunity to talk to some old friends and some new ones.  One of my old friends asked me an excellent question:  What is it with the self-loathing Jews?  My response to him is that they are desperately trying to deflect attention from themselves.  “You say you hate Jews?  Well, so do I.  Heck, I hate them even more than you do.  So if you ever feel like attacking Jews, you can just ignore me.”

From that, we talked about how supportive American Christians are of Jews and Israel.  My friend opined, correctly I think, that part of the reason American Christians identify strongly with Jews is because American Christians are versed in both the Old and the New Testaments.  He pointed out that, in Europe, the Old Testament is virtually ignored.  Not only does that mean they hear only that part of the Bible hostile to Jews, it also deprives them of the ability to understand and appreciate the Jews’ rich history and their deep ties to the Holy Land.

Barbara Tuchman, incidentally, makes a similar point in her wonderful book, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, about the philosemitism that characterized the Jewish upper classes in the years leading to the Balfour declaration.  Because they were steeped in the Old Testament, the Brits, while they wouldn’t dream of dining with a Jew, thought it was a fine thing to reestablish a Jewish nation in the ancient homeland.  Nowadays, between oil and Leftism, it’s hard to imagine a Britain that doesn’t waiver between vicious and virulent antisemitism, but that wasn’t always the case.

It was truly a revitalizing evening.  Not only was Mowbray’s cautious optimism comforting, it was a very real pleasure to be in a room full of Jews and non-Jews alike, all of whom share a deep commitment to liberty and individual freedom, whether exercised in America or abroad.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

A video you’ll want to see; a petition you’ll want to sign

They come from differing religious and political perspectives, but they come together for this:  indict Ahmadinejad.

Fighting the Iranian monster, not fearing the Iranian monster

When Ronald Reagan took on the Soviet Union, which he did through the simple tactic of announcing that he was taking on the Soviet Union, conventional wisdom, on both sides of the aisle was horrified.  How could he? After almost 40 years of Cold War, we’d reached a tenuous balance predicated on mutually assured destruction.  If nobody moved, nobody would fall off the tightrope, right?

This cynical détente wasn’t painless.  Even as we, in America, were reacting with frozen fear to the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union kept a cruel, iron grip on its Eastern European satellites, and fomented bloody mischief all over the world.

What the American political class couldn’t understand, but what history has proven to be true, is that, by the 1980s, the whole Soviet empire was a giant Potemkin village.  Certainly the Soviets had guns and bombs, and they used the most extreme intimidation tactics to control their people, but their power was hollow, and was based more on stage-craft than reality.

Soviet policies were economically destructive and, even in the Communist world, someone needs to pay the bills.  Once Reagan finally started pushing, not only was there no “there there” to push back, but the dissidents who had struggled for so many decades under Soviet rule suddenly got a second wind and were able to upend the Soviets from within.

That was the lesson of my lifetime.  The lesson of my parents lifetime was that, if someone had stood up to Hitler in 1938, instead of simply being paralyzed by the fear of what Hitler might do, WWII could almost certainly have been prevented.

Human nature is such that, as long as the status quo isn’t too awful, it’s a nice place to be.  Until the situation becomes entirely untenable, we will always cling to the devil we know, rather than face the devil we don’t.  Twice in our history — in the 1930s and during the Cold War — we in the West thought we had the devil under control.  The 1940s showed we were fools to believe that; the 1980s, under Reagan, showed that it was better to fight the monster than simply to fear the monster.

What we in fairly free countries always forget is that, when a country rules its citizens through fear and intimidation, it has, at best a very fragile hold on them.  As long as the dictator’s gun is pointing directly at the citizens’ backs, they will fight for their own government, no matter how cruel it is.  However, if these same downtrodden, abused, fearful citizens have even the suspicion that a bigger gun is actually pointed at their dictator, that will give them the courage to refuse to fight.  And without enslaved manpower at its behest, a dictatorship is nothing.

I’m waffling on here because of the situation with Iran.  Right now, Iran does not yet have a nuclear bomb.  It has only the potential of being nuclearized.  It’s a monster, but it’s not as terrible a monster as it’s capable of being.

And make no mistake, if it does get the bomb, Iran will not be like the Soviet Union, held in check by the knowledge of its own weaknesses, and by the self-serving pragmatism of its leadership class.  Instead, like the Nazis, Iran is an apocalyptic regime that’s wedded to its destiny of controlling or destroying the world.  There is no such thing in Iran as mutually assured destruction.  If you’re a fanatic Shia, win or lose, you’ve still won.  Either you have world domination, or you’ve brought about the apocalypse that is the predicate to the coming of that missing 12th Imam.   It’s a win/win.

The only way to deal with Iran is to weaken the government irrevocably before it gets a nuclear weapon.  Unfortunately, as in the 1930s and during the Cold War, the political class is paralyzed by the potential downsides of doing so.  The U.S. under an Iranian-sympathetic Obama is so paralyzed it does nothing at all.  Israel, too, is afraid.  It knows that America is no longer an ally, so anything it does is unilateral and, many believe, existentially dangerous to Israel and America.  The fears of Israel’s acting are all well-spelled out amongst the political classes at home and abroad:

Such an attack would, they say, do great damage to the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Tehran would counterattack, punishing “the Great Satan” (America) for the sins of “the Little Satan” (Israel). An Israeli strike could lead to the closing of the world’s oil passageway, the Strait of Hormuz; prompt Muslims throughout the world to rise up in outrage; and spark a Middle Eastern war that might drag in the United States. Barack Obama’s “New Beginning” with Muslims, such as it is, would be over the moment Israeli bunker-busting bombs hit.

An Israeli “preventive” attack, we are further told, couldn’t possibly stop the Islamic Republic from developing a nuke, and would actually make it more likely that the virulently anti-Zionist supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, would strike Israel with a nuclear weapon. It would also provoke Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps to deploy its terrorist assets against Israel and the United States. Hezbollah, the Islamic Revolution’s one true Arab child, would unleash all the missiles it has imported from Tehran and Damascus since 2006, the last time the Party of God and the Jewish state collided.

An Israeli preemptive strike unauthorized by Washington (and President Barack Obama is unlikely to authorize one) could also severely damage Israel’s standing with the American public, as well as America’s relations with Europe, since the “diplomacy first, diplomacy only” Europeans would go ballistic, demanding a more severe punishment of Israel than Washington could countenance. The Jewish state’s relations with the European Union—Israel’s major trading partner—could collapse. And, last but not least, an Israeli strike could fatally compromise the pro-democracy Green Movement in Iran, which is the only hope the West has for an end to the nuclear menace by means of regime change. This concern was expressed halfheartedly before the tumultuous Iranian elections of June 12, 2009, but it is now voiced with urgency by those who truly care about the Green Movement spawned by those elections and don’t want any American or Israeli action to harm it.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, who wrote the above words, also believes these fears are just as exaggerated as were the various worries that stopped the West from de-fanging Hitler before it was too late, or that prevented America from acting against the Soviet Union until millions of people had already died. None of the scenarios resulting from action are as extreme as the political class fears. Iran, like the Soviet Union, is a fundamentally weak country, one that controls a discontented citizenry through the worst kind of violent oppression. If Israel were to launch a targeted attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it’s more likely that the government will fall than that the apocalypse will come about.

My point of view is a bit more simplistic even than that. I believe that, if the world does nothing and Iran gets nuclear weapons, the apocalypse is a certainty. Iran will drop a nuclear bomb on Israel, and may spare some weaponry for other countries it hates, including Saudi Arabia. It will also exercise total control over a completely cowed Europe, which will be within the orbit of a nuclear Iran.

In other words, if the West continues on its current path of doing nothing, nuclear destruction is a certainty. However, if the West — and given Obama’s foreign policy, “the West” right now actually means Israel — does something, there’s a substantial likelihood (and Gerecht spells out the details of this likelihood), that Iran’s government will be destroyed. And yes, there’s still the possibility of Iran “going nuclear,” not by dropping a bomb, but by engaging in an all front war against Israel and America. That’s not necessarily a war Iran can win, however, and it’s still a better scenario than Iran with a nuclear bomb.

History has shown over and over and over again that the only thing that happens when you pretend you can get along with a monster is that the monster gets more monstrous.  At some point, one has to fight that monster, and it’s always easiest to see so early on in the game.

Women in Iran

If you have a strong stomach, read this horrific report about two women in Iran who were convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.  This is entirely in keeping with the point I made in my article at AT that totalitarian states view sex, not as a private matter, but as a matter of state control — hence the fact that Iran makes it a capital crime to violate rules about adultery and homosexuality.

Should I also mention here that Iran, with the Obama administration’s full approval, now serves on the U.N. Commission for Women’s Rights.  Apparently this means the theoretical right, if your lawyer begs enough, to be hanged, rather than stoned, for allegedly having had sex with a man other than ones husband.

When the policeman goes away — or what happens when a big nation retreats

In 1989, when it became clear that the former Soviet Union could no longer stop the spread of Democracy in the Eastern Bloc countries, many of us naively assumed that a new dawn of peace and harmony was about to arrive.  We envisioned lions and lambs frolicking together, all bedecked in dewy flowers.  What actually happened, of course, was that Central Europe exploded.  It turned out that one of the benefits of Soviet dominance was that the Soviets squashed traditional tribal rivalries that used to send those nations into periodic convulsions.  Without the strong arm of the Soviets, ethnic and religious warfare broke out with nice historic ferocity.

Although we didn’t like the former Soviet Union, which was a brutal totalitarian dictatorship, its fall did remind us that a superpower is often times useful to keep the peace.   You and I learned that lesson.  The Ivory Tower Obamites clearly did not.

Obama’s first act upon moving in to the White House was to retreat.  He retreated everywhere he could.  In the former Eastern Bloc, when he abandoned allies; in the Middle East, when he abandoned allies; and in Latin America, when he abandoned allies.  As if the years 1989 through 1994 had never happened, he blithely assumed that, with the withdrawal of a bullying superpower (because that, quite obviously, is how Obama views the nation he leads), the lion and lamb would frolic together, bedecked in dewy flowers.

What’s happening, of course, is precisely what happened when the Soviet Union retreated:  long simmering discords, held in check only by a super power’s presence, are coming to the fore.  Putin is bullying and killing left and right, both within his borders and in countries that were formerly part of the Russian republic, while Chavez is bullying and killing left and right within his own borders, and is working hard to destabilize democratic regimes within Latin America and to ally himself with Islamists and Communists outside of Latin America.

And then there’s Iran.  It got the green light from Obama to savage its own citizens and to build a bomb that it manifestly intends to use for two reasons:  (a) to destroy Israel; and (b) to become the Super Power in the Middle East.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are aware of what Iran’s goals are in the absence of the U.S.’s strong hand.  And as I long ago predicted, they are joining forces, according to the old dictum that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  They may hate and fear each other, but they hate and fear Iran more.  It remains to be seen whether Israel really is setting up a functional military base in Saudi Arabia, capable of strikes against Iran, or if this is just an elaborate feint, intended to scare Iran into retreat.  Either way, it’s interesting to see how nations are struggling to fill the vacuum America behind left when Obama unilaterally retreated.

Bookworm’s crystal ball reading about Saudi cooperation with Israel proves accurate

On May 7, 2009, when Obama’s anti-Israel animus was first making itself very apparent, I wrote about Saudi cooperation with Israel:

It will be interesting to see if Israel can withstand Obama’s pressure.  I’m reasonably optimistic that, with Netanyahu at the helm, Israel understands what Obama is doing and understands what will happen if he gets away with it, and will resist this threat.  I also think that, under the rubric of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” allegiances are going to start shifting in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, etc., may hate Israel, but they fear a nuclear Iran even more than they hate Israel.  My long-held suspicion since Obama’s election (which instantly meant Israel lost her only friend) is that Saudi Arabia, somehow or other, is going to give Israel cover for an attack against Iran.

On July 5, 2009, I made again read the tea leaves (some of them pretty explicit) regarding Saudi cooperation with Israel:

I’ve predicted in this blog that, if America continues to coddle Iran, Saudi Arabia will give Israel access to its air space, although it may well lie about that fact later.  Iran’s bluster was fine with the Arab Muslim nations as long as they thought the U.S. would ultimately slap down any Iranian pretensions to regional hegemony.  With that clearly not the case any more, the game is changing and the players are taking new (and, if I do say so myself, predictable) positions on the board:

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Today’s news, from the London Times:

Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.

(Read the rest here.)

Barack Obama has made nice with the Iranians, he has watered down sanctions for the Iranians, and he has brow-breaten the Jews on the Iranians’ behalf.  Barack Obama cannot understand why, despite all the hugs and bows, on the one hand, and the standing behind the playground bully on the other hand, the Iranians persist in building nasty little nuclear bombs.  Obama probably also doesn’t understand that, by making this news public, the Saudis have probably struck the biggest blow yet to Iranian dreams of regional hegemony.

And (here I’m patting myself on the back), I saw this coming.  Obama didn’t.  I’m a suburban mom and part-time lawyer.  Obama is president of the United States.  Something is wrong with this picture.

The new Iranian world player — and the president who denies there’s a game afoot

From James Lewis’ must-read article today about the effect of Iran’s ICBM’s (which it has spread throughout the Middle East) and its future nuclear arsenal:

Mahmoud Ahmadijenad is the aggressive chess player behind all these missiles surrounding Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Iranian strategy has been to move its missile assets closer and closer to its enemies, including Israel, the American military in the Gulf and Iraq, and the Sunni Arab Gulf states. By 2015, Iran is predicted to have ICBMs that can reach Europe and the United States in less than a half-hour. On automatic standby, those missiles reduce the warning period to such short durations that no human being can make a rational decision. Automatic missiles require automatic defenses, but that also raises the danger of automatic escalation.

Israel is only the most obvious domino. The Tehran regime has had its eyes on Saudi oil and the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina for thirty years. There is no limit to their ambitions for conquest. That’s what they say in so many words.

The Europeans are getting really scared, as they should be. Sunni Arab nations have been anxious about Iranian imperialism for years. The Russians are playing it both ways, but they just put down a massive Islamist revolt in Chechnya with extreme violence, they recently suffered a major terror attack in Moscow, and they have fought Muslim invaders for more than five hundred years. The Russian Orthodox Church (of which Putin is supposed to be member), has been shaped by 1,300 years of struggle with Islam, ever since the Byzantine Empire. Moscow was historically the successor capital to Byzantium after the latter was destroyed by Muslim invaders. Russians have the fear of Muslim jihad in their genes.

Only Obama’s America isn’t worried. In fact, Obama has mentally flipped the source of danger, as Leftists always do, by blaming the victim. Israel has been told, in effect, that the United States will not help defend it unless it surrenders its defensive buffer area on the West Bank and the Golan Heights. That means that Israel’s civilian population will be within reach, not only of IRBMs and cruise missiles, but of more primitive rockets and mortars. Hamas and Hezb’allah, not to mention Iran and Syria, have never left any doubt of their intentions once they have the Israelis at their mercy.

Israel is only the first in line. As you can see, Iran is poised against everything and everybody. But because Israel is first in line, the Left controlling each of Iran’s targets (other than Saudi Arabia), is pretending that Israel is the only target.  This joke perfectly describes the Obama/Europe/Russia view:

Two men, while out hiking, are surprised by a very angry bear.  As they instinctively take off running, one man says, “Hey, we can’t outrun a bear!”  To which the other man replies, “I don’t need to outrun the bear.  I just need to outrun you.”

Outrunning the other victim is a sound strategy, I guess, if you know you won’t be seeing that bear anymore.  It’s a fool’s game, however, when the bear isn’t going to go away, and it’s starting to look awfully hungry again.

The difference between the Soviet Union and Iran

In his excellent post about the myriad flaws in the administration’s probable (and inchoate) containment plan for Iran, Max Boot makes a very important point, one I’ve somehow missed when reading others on the same subject.  He argues that Leftist nostalgic for the realpolitik of the Cold War, which saw us learning to live uneasily alongside a nuclear Soviet Union, can be replicated here:

Those policies worked against the Soviet Union, but no one should have any illusions that they provide a painless fix to the threat posed by Iran. In the first place, even with the Soviets, there were a few moments when nuclear war was a serious possibility. Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? There is no guarantee that a replay with Iran — say a Lebanese Missile Crisis — would be resolved so peaceably. Moreover, even if we avoided World War III, containing the Soviets was hardly bloodless — it cost the lives of nearly a 100,000 American soldiers in Korea and Vietnam.

Well, there is that, but there’s also a more abstract problem, and that is the nature of the nuclear opponent.  The Soviet Union was made up of political ideologues who dearly wanted power in this world.  Power, after all, is a thing of the real world.  This meant that a certain pragmatism infused all of the Soviet efforts.  They were willing to play nuclear chicken with us, but the Soviets were not personally inclined to be the ones driving off the cliff.

How different are the Iranians.  They are not ideologues, they are zealots.  They’re orientation isn’t this world, it’s the next.  They are aiming for Armageddon.  Their particular world view demands a man-made conflagration as a prerequisite for the coming of the 12th Iman.  As far as they’re concerned, the game of chicken is won if everyone drives off the cliff.

This profound ideological difference between the Soviets and the Iranians is why containment is foolish at best and suicidal at worst.  The mutual deterrence strategy that characterized the Cold War worked because each side, ultimately, wanted to live.  The Soviets may not have cared about the bodies strewn in their paths, but they cared a great deal about their own power and about having a base over which to lord it.  Personal nuclear immolation didn’t factor into their plans.

How different are the Mullahs, who see their job on this earth as destructive — of others and of themselves.  So what if they start a nuclear war?  When everything is dead and gone, the truth faith will still hover over the dust.

Obama drops another bomb in his war against Israel

A lot of you read the same things I do, so maybe one of you knows where I can find an excellent opinion piece I read the other day urging the Obama administration to stop providing nuclear educations for Iranian engineers.  Iran, after all, has committed itself to our imminent destruction.

Joshapundit has now published the companion piece to that editorial, and it should make your hair stand on end.  The Obama administration is barring a significant group of Israel’s nuclear technicians from entering the U.S.:

NRG/Maariv (Hebrew link only, sorry) reported today that the Israeli government was stunned when every nuclear technician at Israel’s Dimona reactor who had submitted visa requests to visit the United States for ongoing university education in Physics, Chemistry and Nuclear Engineering had their visa applications summarily rejected, specifically because of their association with the Dimona reactor.

Please read the rest here and then ask yourself:  In the United States of Obama, who’s the enemy?

UPDATE:  Thanks to Gracchus for the link I was looking for.

Pharaoh, the Ten Plagues, and Iran

An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people.  What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

I know that some people have tried to explain away this part of the story by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt.  After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story.  You know, Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.”  That’s not a narrative with much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting.  It’s much more exciting to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly.  There’s a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people.  A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on.  Pharaoh still held together his government.  The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever:  As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him.  The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals.  It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years.  Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII.  For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over.  Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him.  Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed.  Only when the death toll became too high, and it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, did the war on the continent finally end.

The same held true for the Japanese.  Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it.  Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so.  What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option.  Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices:  another year of war, with the lost of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate stop to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties.  Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer.  The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch.  (One of those Dutch, incidentally, was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.)  The Japanese high command was Pharaoh.  No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path.  Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence?  As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die, with the only question being whether they would die quickly or slowly.  The same holds true for the Germans, whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime.  That’s the problem with an evil regime.  If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, whether or not you support it, you’re going to be cannon fodder.  Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned — as long as they can retain their power.

Iran is no different.  Although the people bleed and cry under the brutish regime, no plague, including rioting in the streets, has come along that is bad enough to break the back of that tyranny.  The people continue to die by inches, and the regime threatens everyone within bombing distance.

Liberals believe that it is immoral to impose serious consequences against the Iranian regime because there are innocents who will suffer from those consequences.  What these liberals fail to understand is that, when power doesn’t reside in the people, but resides, instead, in a single group that is insulated from all but the most terrible strikes, imposing small plagues against the country (freezing a few bank accounts, public reprimands, vague threats) is utterly useless.  These small plagues, no matter how much they affect the ordinary citizen, do not affect the decision-making process in which a tyrant engages.  The only thing that will move the tyrant is to destroy his power base.  Everything else is theater.

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Passover.  Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be high, both for slave and master, our ultimate goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

The common bonds between Iraniah Mullahs and the Democrats *UPDATED*

Several years ago, when Bush Derangement Syndrome was at its peak, I tackled the “he’s got his finger on the button and he’s going to blow up the world” meme that anti-war activists were so shrilly screaming.  I pointed out that there was no evidence whatsoever to indicate that George Bush was an apocalyptic person.  Indeed, every indication was that he was someone who fought reluctantly and defensively only — that is, he wanted to protect America from destruction at the hands of another.  That his information was wrong, that the threat from Iraq was something of a Potemkin threat, with Hussein blustering about his capabilities to elevate his profile, doesn’t take away from the fact that Bush engaged with Iraq, not to destroy Iraq, but because he believed America was at imminent risk from Iraq’s destructive capabilities.  (Incidentally, I believe that much of Iraq’s arsenal, whether it rose to the level of WMDs or not, is currently sitting comfortably in Syria, except for the bit that Israel destroyed in 2007.)

How different are the Mullahs.  Western pragmatists (including Leftists in deep denial about the nature of Apocalyptic Shia Islam) believe that Iran is merely bloviating for effect when it constantly insists that Israel will be reduced to ashes.  They believe that Iran is merely trying to gain regional stature by creating functional nuclear weapons.  After all, they say, Iran knows that, if it launches a nuclear bomb at Israel, two things will happen:  First, Israel’s last act before its own destruction will be to destroy Iran (assuming Israel has that long-range nuclear capability itself).  Second, Iran will become a pariah among nations for committing this genocidal act, which will lead to the downfall of the Mullahs and the end of their dreams.  As for this last, considering the rampant antisemitism on the rise around the world, considering the region in which Iran is located, and, right now, considering the man in the White House, I don’t believe that for a minute.  Iran will get her hand politely slapped at the UN, and the world will continue as usual, minus a few million Jews.

The last argument in the pragmatists’ quiver is that, even if Israel can’t destroy Iran, and even if Iran doesn’t become a pariah nation, Iran will not drop the bomb because, if she does, as many Muslims will die as will Jews.  After all, not only does Israel have a huge Arab population, it is surrounded by Muslims — in the West Bank, in Gaza, in Egypt, in Jordan, in Lebanon.  Nuclear bombs have fallout, and many millions of Muslims will die along with the hated Jews.

And that’s where the pragmatists show themselves to be ignoramuses.  They actually believe that the Mullahs care whether Muslims, Iranian or otherwise, die.  The Mullahs don’t.  Their Shia religion is an apocalyptic one, and one that doesn’t care whether man or God ignites the maelstrom that brings about the returning of the missing imam and the end of days.  In that, their apocalyptic fervor is quite different from the Christian belief in an apocalypse.  As I understand it, the latter predicts the Apocalypse’s ultimate arrival, but does not believe that man is the instrument that will bring it about.  God will, when he wills.

For the Mullahs, then, there’s a distinct virtue in simultaneously wiping God’s enemies (Jews and the hated State of Israel) off the earth and in simultaneously bringing about the end of days.  That the latter might involve the deaths of millions, including Iran’s own citizens, is completely irrelevant.  The goal matters, and the collateral damage just has to be accepted as part of that greater good.

I promised in the title of this post that I would compare Mullahs and Democrats.  I will or, rather, Andy McCarthy will explain that the Democrats, too, do not care about self-immolation if it will lead to their own apocalyptic vision, which is the destruction of America’s evil capitalist, individualist system, and the emergence, like a phoenix from the ashes, of a socialist promised land.  Any pragmatist Republican fantasies that Democrats will retreat in the face of failing poll numbers are just that — fantasies:

I think our side is analyzing this all wrong: Today’s Democrats are controlled by the radical Left, and it is more important to them to execute the permanent transformation of American society than it is to win the upcoming election cycles. They have already factored in losing in November — even losing big. For them, winning big now outweighs that. I think they’re right.

I hear Republicans getting giddy over the fact that “reconciliation,” if it comes to that, is a huge political loser. That’s the wrong way to look at it. The Democratic leadership has already internalized the inevitablility of taking its political lumps. That makes reconciliation truly scary. Since the Dems know they will have to ram this monstrosity through, they figure it might as well be as monstrous as they can get wavering Democrats to go along with. Clipping the leadership’s statist ambitions in order to peel off a few Republicans is not going to work. I’m glad Republicans have held firm, but let’s not be under any illusions about what that means. In the Democrat leadership, we are not dealing with conventional politicians for whom the goal of being reelected is paramount and will rein in their radicalism. They want socialized medicine and all it entails about government control even more than they want to win elections. After all, if the party of government transforms the relationship between the citizen and the state, its power over our lives will be vast even in those cycles when it is not in the majority. This is about power, and there is more to power than winning elections, especially if you’ve calculated that your opposition does not have the gumption to dismantle your ballooning welfare state.

Nor is there any consolation to be had in a Republican sweep in November.  Even if the Republicans grab the majority in both houses, they will not be able to pass veto-proof bills undoing the reconciliation damage heading down the political path.  Obama, after all, is every bit as interested in transformation as the rest of the current crop of Democrats and will willingly sacrifice himself by vetoing bills aimed at undoing a government takeover of 1/6 of the American economy.

Democrats are political martyrs, willing to die for the cause.  This willingness explains Obama’s silly double-talk, where he urges compromise on the one hand and, on the other hand, says his way or the reconciliation highway.

And really, when you think about it, the martyrdom here is minimal.  No actual crucifixion, no arrows, no flayings, no nuclear annihilation.  Instead, you pack your bags, board a plane, and head off into the sunset of six figure speaking gigs, corporate jobs, and endless media adulation.  That is, until the whole system implodes and the true anarchy begins.

Cross-p0sted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  From Andy McCarthy’s savvy predictions to Nancy Pelosi’s small brain and loud mouth:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged her colleagues to back a major overhaul of U.S. health care even if it threatens their political careers, a call to arms that underscores the issue’s massive role in this election year.

Lawmakers sometimes must enact policies that, even if unpopular at the moment, will help the public, Pelosi said in an interview being broadcast Sunday the ABC News program “This Week.”
“We’re not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress,” she said. “We’re here to do the job for the American people.”

[snip]

Her comments to ABC, in the interview released Sunday, seemed to acknowledge the widely held view that Democrats will lose House seats this fall — maybe a lot. They now control the chamber 255 to 178, with two vacancies. Pelosi stopped well short of suggesting Democrats could lose their majority, but she called on members of her party to make a bold move on health care with no prospects of GOP help.

“Time is up,” she said. “We really have to go forth.”

Her comments somewhat echoed those of President Obama, who said at the end of last week’s bipartisan health care summit that Congress should act on the issue and let voters render their verdicts. “That’s what elections are for,” he said.

The new deal in the Middle East

I have predicted several times that, in a choice between Iran and Israel, Middle Eastern nations will back Israel, not because they have developed any fondness for her, but because they recognize that, while Israel makes a great rhetorical scapegoat, Iran is the real threat.  I’ve also said that America’s weakness regarding Iran will hasten this process.  So far, my predictions are proving accurate.  I feel smug.

This is what oppression looks like

Through the Bush years, those in the grips of BDS likened him to Hitler based upon their contention that he was running the most oppressive administration ever in American history.  They made this claim despite the fact that, insofar as I know, no protestor was ever imprisoned merely for having protested.  (This is separate from protesters who might have been charged with vandalism, assault, etc.)

Two stories in today’s paper serve to remind us exactly what it looks like when you have a truly oppressive government.  In Uganda, a movement is afoot to make some homosexuality and homosexual acts a capital crime, with family and friends risking imprisonment if they don’t turn their loved one over to the government:

Proposed legislation would impose the death penalty for some gay Ugandans, and their family and friends could face up to seven years in jail if they fail to report them to authorities. Even landlords could be imprisoned for renting to homosexuals.

[snip]

The Ugandan legislation in its current form would mandate a death sentence for active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape. “Serial offenders” also could face capital punishment, but the legislation does not define the term. Anyone convicted of a homosexual act faces life imprisonment.

Anyone who “aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage of acts of homosexuality” faces seven years in prison if convicted. Landlords who rent rooms or homes to homosexuals also could get seven years and anyone with “religious, political, economic or social authority” who fails to report anyone violating the act faces three years.

(Incidentally, if you read the whole AP story, you’ll see that it’s all the fault of American Christians that this legislation is on the table.)

And in Iran, of course, we see exactly what happens in a place that actually has a repressive administration, as opposed to a gentleman-like administration that people can safely attack:

Iran will “show no mercy” toward opposition protesters seen as threatening national security, a judiciary official said on Tuesday, a day after thousands of students staged anti-government rallies.

[snip]

“From now on, we will show no mercy toward anyone who acts against national security. They will be confronted firmly,” said prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, according to the official IRNA news agency.

“Confronted firmly.” Translated, I assume that means beatings, electrical shocks to the genitals, starvation, and other forms of torture a bit more extreme than waterboarding, all of which is followed by either a kangaroo trial or just a swift gunshot to the back of the head.  That last, of course, assumes that you’re lucky enough to make it alive off the streets:

Iran trying to use Canada as a conduit for nuclear materials

I’m not sure why Canada, except for maybe the large Muslim population, the porous border, and the country’s politically correct inertia:

Iran is attempting to acquire clandestine shipments via Canada for its nuclear program, a senior customs official said Thursday.

Canadian customs officers have seized everything from centrifuge parts to programmable logic controllers being shipped to Iran through third countries, George Webb, head of the Canada Border Services Agency’s Counter Proliferation Section, told the National Post.

The increasing number of cases involves entrepreneurs and state-sponsored cells, Webb told the daily, in comments that were confirmed to AFP by a spokeswoman for CBSA.

Microchips identified as possible “navigational chips” from the United States, Denmark and Japan were marked as headed for the United Arab Emirates, but officials suspect the end destination was Iran, said the Canadian daily.

“With all of the UN sanctions, of course, now no one declares that the goods are going to Iran. They actually declare UAE, Dubai,” he said.

The last seizure occurred just last week.

In April, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police charged a Toronto man with attempting to export pressure transducers, which can be used in nuclear power plants but are also required to produce nuclear weapons, to Iran.

Read the rest here.

Hat tip:  Sadie

Only the guns and the cultural insanity make me take this seriously

Yes, they have guns, and yes, they come from an apocalyptic culture that believes it would be a good thing to see the world enveloped in flames.  But otherwise, these Iranian soldiers look pretty damn silly:

article-0-068A2F75000005DC-543_634x376

Of course, it’s probably good camo if you’re trying to infiltrate this:

sheep_herd_looking_at_camer

Otherwise, it’s hard to see the disguise’s utility.

For more info about the parade in Iran, go here.

The mullahs unleashed

I got this email from Steve Schippert:

It’s graphic. There is no nuance. And it’s why I am done debating otherwise intelligent friends on the aptness, nay brilliance, of our president’s near silence in condemnation of the Iranian regime which today executed its own Tienanmen Square in central Tehran.

http://threatswatch.org/rapidrecon/2009/06/unimaginable-horror-in-tehran/ [Be warned:  graphic photo at link.]

Bludgeoning women to death, who represent the greatest true threat to the regime. Herding bus loads of Iranians into the square and then unleashing hundreds of Basij upon them from their concealed staging area – a street-side mosque. With axes, rifles, hand guns, clubs and gas, they commenced the killing spree; throwing people off of pedestrian bridges, gang beating defenseless women, shooting into the crowd and wading into them with axes.

[snip]

Today, I am done entertaining excuses for moral cowardice. Done.

My tears earlier today have given way to rage. Rage at a regime so brutally murdering the unarmed and peaceful. Rage at those who make eloquent excuses for a man who hesitates “because we don’t know how this is going to turn out.”

Yes we do. Count them. Quietly. To yourself.

Even though Mousavi is as bad as Ahmadinejad, the fight in the streets still matters

Rob Miller, who blogs at JoshuaPundit, thought that, because I support the protesters in the Iranian streets, I would disagree with his American Thinker article pointing out that much of what’s going on in Iran at the higher echelons is a sham:

Are Mousavi and his followers in Iran an actual reform movement and a positive democratic change in Iran? The pictures of student demonstrators in Tehran being brutalized by the basij and Iranian security forces present a heart-rending spectacle. But there is very little evidence that the label of “democratic reform,” attached to Mousavi and many of his followers, is anything but a masquerade.

Mousavi is not some democracy-minded reformer. All candidates for elective office in Iran are handpicked and only allowed to run for office by the express permission of the Supreme Council of Guardians and its leader Ayatollah Khamenei. All candidates agree to follow orders. On issues that matter to the West — Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, threats of genocide aimed at Israel, interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, support for Islamist terrorism and any reasonable compromises with the West on these issues — the two candidates were virtually the same.

The contrary is true.  I think Rob is absolutely right.  But I still support the rioting citizens in Tehran.

While it’s true (as even Obama figured out, and was crude enough to state) that, at the upper echelons, this was all a charade from the first minute, that still doesn’t discount the genuine anti-totalitarian impulse aline in the streets.

What I think happened is that the people who for 30 years have been played for fools with the mullahs’ pretense of democracy suddenly had it.  Or, at least the people in the sophisticated urban areas had it.  They were willing to go through with phony elections, but they were not willing to have the phony elections than set aside.  That was adding insult to injury.

So while Mousavi is as bad as, if not worse than Ahmadinejad, I believe that the uprising on the streets is real, as is the tremendously brutal repression now being used to end that uprising.  Rob is also right that, even if the uprising ends badly for those citizens in the streets (as it seems likely to do), there’s still an upside:

Still, if Iran’s genuinely fascist, clerical regime isn’t overthrown from within, the whole sorry mess has had some value: the regime’s true character has been shown to the world. The election debacle might just give the Obama Administration second thoughts about acquiescing so readily to idea of a nuclear-armed Iran.

You should read Rob’s whole article. I agree with him on every point but one: I think the citizen uprising matters and deserves our support.

The price of silence

Obama was so sure that his magisterial silence alone would bring peace to the streets of Tehran.  He’s right, in that the mullah’s are summarily ending the protests, but it’s a peace that only Tacitus would recognize.

A barbecue bellwether of things to come

Riffing off the news that Obama intends to go ahead with a July 4 barbecue for Iranians, even though his guests hands are soaked in blood, a very upset Max Boot has this to say:

It’s bad enough that the president is deliberately refraining from being too outspoken in favor of the freedom fighters who are being beaten, shot, and tear-gassed in the streets of Tehran. But that he’s still prepared to have America’s diplomats break bread with representatives of the very regime which is responsible for this terrible oppression, and to do it on the holiday that celebrates our own struggle for freedom–that’s too nauseating for words.

It essentially confirms the analysis of those who have suggested that Obama is not going to deviate one iota from his previous course of “engagement” with Iran, no matter how absurd and immoral that course now appears to be. For a candidate who mocked the previous president for his supposed adherence to ideology over reality, Obama is displaying that very tendency–only, of course, his ideology is not the advancement of freedom but the advancement of negotiations in the vain hope that somehow we can find common ground with the world’s vilest regimes.

This engagement is especially sickening when one considers July 4th’s meaning.  It’s not just any old day with burgers and buns.  This is is special, since it’s a celebration of the great victory of liberty over tyranny.  Having the mullah’s blood-stained compadres be the ones celebrating this holiday with official US representatives is not just an ordinary political engagement.  Symbolically, it’s like having the mullahs dance on their victims’ graves.

Please help protect Iranians from their secret police *UPDATED*

I got this from a fairly reliable source:

If you’re on Twitter, set your location to Tehran & your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut down Iranians’ access to the internet.” Cut & Paste & Pass it on.

I’ve shortened it to this for tweet purposes:

Set yr location to Tehran & yr time zone to GMT +3.30. Iran police R hunting 4 bloggers using location/timezone searches. Help create logjam

UPDATE: I wasn’t sure if the above is legit, but it is. Mere Rhetoric has even more things both neophytes and tech savvy people can do to help protect the Iranian people from their own secret police.

Feelings, nothing more than feelings

When Polish dockworkers stood against the might of the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan spoke immediately and loudly about absolute principles, such as freedom and the dignity of man:

The Polish nation, speaking through Solidarity, has provided one of the brightest, bravest moments of modern history. The people of Poland are giving us an imperishable example of courage and devotion to the values of freedom in the face of relentless opposition. Left to themselves, the Polish people would enjoy a new birth of freedom. But there are those who oppose the idea of freedom, who are intolerant of national independence, and hostile to the European values of democracy and the rule of law.

Two Decembers ago, freedom was lost in Afghanistan; this Christmas, it’s at stake in Poland. But the torch of liberty is hot. It warms those who hold it high. It burns those who try to extinguish it.

Obama, a man of no fixed principles, has had to wait to get in touch with his inner feelings before he could say anything:

Said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs of Obama: “I think he has been moved what we’ve seen on television. I think particularly so by images of women in Iran who have stood up for their right to demonstrate, to speak out and to be heard.”

Gibbs said Monday that Obama continues to have “concerns and questions” about the way Iran’s presidential election was conducted this month.

Aside from demonstrating a complete absence of leadership, Obama is painting a very good picture of himself as a pathetic excuse for a human being.

A swift analysis and a great collection of links *UPDATED*

The Anchoress has a swift, comprehensive analysis of the situation in Iran, along with an amazing collection of links (including one to yours truly).  Check it out, since it is a pathway to Iran enlightenment.

UPDATEAndrea Shea King has another great round-up (again with a kind link to me), along with some powerful photos and a great photoshop.

Obama misses the revolution *UPDATED*

In the email giving the heads up about this post, Steve Schippert had one word, which he practically yelled:  “H.U.G.E.”

As you may recall, early on in this Iranian thing, I wondered if the protest would coalesce around anything.  Without a focus, it would just drift away.  With a focus — well, anything is possible. It seems the focus is in place (getting rid of the Supreme Leader), a martyr has been created in timely fashion, and the Revolution is ready.

Would you all please remind me where Barack Obama was during all of this?  There’s something almost poetic about a Leftie missing out on a revolution entirely.  If things do go down, he owes the Iranian people a huge apology for backing the wrong horse.

UPDATEAndy McCarthy explains why Obama may be quite comfortable sitting out this particular revolution:

The fact is that, as a man of the hard Left, Obama is more comfortable with a totalitarian Islamic regime than he would be with a free Iranian society. In this he is no different from his allies like the Congressional Black Caucus and Bill Ayers, who have shown themselves perfectly comfortable with Castro and Chàvez.  Indeed, he is the product of a hard-Left tradition that apologized for Stalin and was more comfortable with the Soviets than the anti-Communists (and that, in Soros parlance, saw George Bush as a bigger terrorist than bin Laden).

Because of obvious divergences (inequality for women and non-Muslims, hatred of homosexuals) radical Islam and radical Leftism are commonly mistaken to be incompatible. In fact, they have much more in common than not, especially when it comes to suppression of freedom, intrusiveness in all aspects of life, notions of “social justice,” and their economic programs. (On this, as in so many other things, Anthony Daniels should be required reading — see his incisive New English Review essay, “There Is No God but Politics”, comparing Marx and Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb.) The divergences between radical Islam and radical Leftism are much overrated — “equal rights” and “social justice” are always more rally-cry propaganda than real goals for totalitarians, and hatred of certain groups is always a feature of their societies.

The key to understanding Obama, on Iran as on other matters, is that he is a power-politician of the hard Left : He is steeped in Leftist ideology, fueled in anger and resentment over what he chooses to see in America’s history, but a “pragmatist” in the sense that where ideology and power collide (as they are apt to do when your ideology becomes less popular the more people understand it), Obama will always give ground on ideology (as little as circumstances allow) in order to maintain his grip on power.

Makes sense to me.

Let your voice be heard on the EPA’s CO2 plans

One of the major problems conservatives face is the limitations of their own nature.  We’re conservative after all.  Our passion is putting our heads down and getting on with the work of life:  earning a living, raising our families, serving our communities.  We tend not to be protesters.  Or more precisely, protesting is not a lifestyle for us.

With the current administration, though, it’s time for us to become more active simply because, if we don’t, we won’t have a living to earn, families to raise, or communities to serve.  The government will have taken it all over, lock, stock and barrel.  (And speaking of locks, stocks and barrels, I bet you suspect, as I do, that the Mullahs would be a bit more cautious if they hadn’t disarmed their citizens.  And speaking of barrels alone, the Mullahs are essentially shooting fish in them, aren’t they?   But I digress.)

Back to the subject of speaking up, we can protest something, and that something is the proposed EPA CO2 regs, which are pretty much a green wet dream.  At Watts Up With That, you can get information about deadlines for comments (June 23), how to make comments, and suggestions for comment contents.

Oooh, one other digression:  Speaking of green, wear green today, not in support of the environment, but in support of the Iranian people.

Hat tip:  American Thinker

An open letter to the Iranian people

People of Iran:

Traditionally, the president of the United States has been the spokesperson for the people of the United States — or, at least, for a majority of the people of the United States.  For the first time in modern history, however, we have a president who appears incapable of giving voice to the American people.  I therefore address this letter to you in the hope that, in the vacuum President Obama has created, you can hear our voices and know that we stand behind you in your brave fight against a government that has turned against you.

America was created based upon certain fundamental beliefs about the nature of man and man’s relationship to his government.  First, we believe that all people are born free, equal and, provided that they do not impinge too much on their fellow citizens, with the right to make their own lives as happy as possible.  Second, we believe that government exists to facilitate these fundamental rights.  And third, we believe that, when government fails in its responsibilities, the people may rebel.  Thus, our Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

When Americans see you in the streets fighting for your freedom against a government that controls your every move, that makes a mockery of your votes and that, when you speak out, tortures and kills you, we feel in the very marrow of our being that you are fighting the good fight.  In homes and in offices, on blogs and in letters to the editor, and in the halls of government, Americans applaud your courage.  We want you to cast off the chains that deprive you of the liberty to which each person on earth (man and woman) is entitled.

We want you to live in a country in which all people can speak out freely, worship their God as their conscience demands, and move about without fear that their government will constrain or control them.  We recognize that, as an Islamic society, your concept of free speech, free worship, and free movement are almost certainly more narrow than ours.  Nevertheless, we believe that any limitations placed on speech, worship and movement should come from the people themselves, and not from a group of unelected rulers who brook no challenges to their power.

It is very painful, therefore, for many of us in America to watch President Barack Obama’s almost complete paralysis when it comes to speaking out for freedom.  Certainly, it’s unclear why he is so tongue-tied in the face of a rebellion that calls out to every American.  Is he silent because he thinks that the people of Iran cannot prevail?  If that’s the case, he shows a remarkably short memory, since the people of Iran were able to bring sweeping changes to their society a mere thirty years ago.  That was a revolution away from freedom.  I hope that this is a revolution towards freedom.

Or perhaps President Obama is silent because he believes that America has, at various times in her history, deviated from the path of freedom.  I hope that’s not the case either.  It would be a shocking thing if America, rather than constantly working to obtain freedom for all people, whether at home or abroad, instead decided that she was unworthy of the goal.  Even if Barack Obama thinks that America can no longer aspire towards a world “with liberty and justice for all,” I know that the majority of Americans do believe that liberty and justice are universal goals, and that we should always speak up for those who seek to obtain those national treasures.

Because President Obama’s silence is inconsistent with deeply held American values, I sincerely hope that you, the Iranian people, ignore him and listen to our voices.  Presidents come and Presidents go (one of the virtues of a truly free electoral system), but American values last.  We, the Americans, support your fight and wish you well.

Obama is weighed and found wanting

During the campaign, Biden warned that Obama would be tested in his first six months in office.  We all assumed that Biden knew about a planned terrorist attack on the US.  That could still happen, of course, although I devoutly hope it won’t.

At exactly the five month mark, however, there is a test taking place, and that is the test of Obama’s moral courage with regard to Iran.  So far, he’s not doing very well.  When 405 Congresspeople turn on “The One,” the one is finding himself on the wrong side of history.  When liberal pundit after liberal pundit writes about his or her support for the Iranian people, and then engages in pathetic contortions to justify Obama’s refusal to voice any support, the One is failing a test.  When France is a stronger moral presence than the United States, our leader looks small.

I see the handwriting on the wall: Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin. Obama is being weighed and found wanting, in the eyes of fellow politicians, in the eyes of his party, in the eyes of the American people, and in the eyes of the world.

Mark Steyn skillfully describes the pattern behind Obama’s moral breakdown:

For the Obama administration, this [the fact that we do have a dog in this fight, whether we want to or not] presents a particular challenge — because the president’s preferred rhetorical tic is to stake out the two sides and present himself as a dispassionate, disinterested soul of moderation: “There are those who would argue . . . ” on the one hand, whereas “there are those who insist . . . ” on the other, whereas he is beyond such petty dogmatic positions. That was pretty much his shtick on abortion at Notre Dame. Of course, such studied moderation is usually a crock: Obama is an abortion absolutist, supporting partial-birth infanticide, and even laws that prevent any baby so inconsiderate as to survive the abortion from receiving medical treatment.

Josh Muravchik, without even having had the benefit of the Iran crisis (since he wrote his article before it arose) sees that same rhetorical pattern having much more ominous overtones for the cause of freedom around the world:

The most surprising thing about the first half-year of Barack Obama’s presidency, at least in the realm of foreign policy, has been its indifference to the issues of human rights and democracy. No administration has ever made these its primary, much less its exclusive, goals overseas. But ever since Jimmy Carter spoke about human rights in his 1977 inaugural address and created a new infrastructure to give bureaucratic meaning to his words, the advancement of human rights has been one of the consistent objectives of America’s diplomats and an occasional one of its soldiers.

This tradition has been ruptured by the Obama administration. The new president signaled his intent on the eve of his inauguration, when he told editors of the Washington Post that democracy was less important than “freedom from want and freedom from fear. If people aren’t secure, if people are starving, then elections may or may not address those issues, but they are not a perfect overlay.”

In other words, if the American masses can have their TiVos and McDs, and the Muslims can get their people (and maybe our people) just to submit, everything will be as I, the Great One, want it to be.

As for me, I keep being reminded of 1984.  While the book is about Winston Smith, the subliminal backdrop is the ordinary people, the ones who aren’t party members.  The party pacifies them with cheap food and cheap music, confident that they’ll be disinterested and cowed enough not even to notice that their lives are under complete government control.

Am I missing something in this liberal ode to Iranian democracy? *UPDATED*

Here’s the article from an extremely Progressive San Francisco blog.  Here’s my distillation:

1.  Liberals truly care about freedom, because they protested their hearts out over the illegal U.S. war in Iraq.

2.  For all that screaming against the evil U.S. government, American liberals really weren’t risking anything because, unlike the Iranian people, they don’t need to fear their own government.

3.  Iranians are now fighting for freedom; American citizens are watching basketball (and running riot afterward).

4.  Both the Iranian candidates are equally bad, but it is impossible for each to have gotten 60% of the popular vote.

5.  Some U.S. activists think we should take sides in this election for one or candidate or another.

6.  Americans have no right to take sides because we’ve done bad things in Iraq, Iran and “Eastasia.”

7.  Americans have no right to take sides because, unlike citizens in a totalitarian state who turn out in droves (to cast meaningless votes, I might add), Californians tend to ignore elections.

8.  I (the writer of the article I’m summarizing here) think you Iranian people are great, but we Americans are just too flawed to offer you any support.

Number 8 is the liberal bottom line, isn’t it?  We really want you Iranians to be free, but our penalty for past infractions is that we’re not allowed to support freedom elsewhere.

Does this writer’s line of thought strike you as the same thinking in which Barack Obama is probably engaged?  Does this explain Obama’s apparent “concern,” coupled with an unwillingness to “meddle” that is so great, he won’t even offer moral support to those fighting for their rights in a totalitarian theocracy?  Obama claims to be a Christian.  Apparently his Bible not only says “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” it also says that, “He who has sinned is forever banned from joining with the righteous.”  Who knew?  That’s a lousy principle, if you ask me.

UPDATE:  Trust a great satirist to nail precisely the same point.

Why Obama is wrong about Iran

As you know, not only did Obama say he wouldn’t “meddle” in Iran, he said that Mousavi and Ahmadinejad are two peas in a pod, so who cares?  James Taranto explains perfectly why Obama is dead wrong:

[W]e think it is very telling that the very first point he made is that there isn’t a rial’s worth of difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Let’s stipulate that he’s right: The election was a contest between Evildee and Evildum. We said as much Friday in arguing that an Ahmadinejad victory might be preferable because the reasonable-seeming Mousavi would be more likely to lull the West into complacency. Obama doesn’t need to be lulled; he’s already so heavily sedated that on Friday he was praising the “robust debate” between the candidates he now finds indistinguishable.

Our Friday analysis was predicated on the supposition that one of two outcomes would obtain: Either Mousavi would prevail in an orderly-conducted travesty of a sham election, or Ahmadinejad would. Once the regime decided to make a mockery of its travesty of a sham, it foreclosed both these possibilities. Thus Obama’s analysis made no sense on Tuesday, even though it was substantially identical to ours on Friday.

Speaking very broadly, there are two possible outcomes in Iran now. The regime may succeed in crushing the opposition, enhancing its own power at the expense of whatever pretense of legitimacy it might have had a week ago. Or it may fail to do so and be weakened or overthrown. The free world has every interest in encouraging the latter outcome, and someone ought to bring the leader of the free world up to speed on the events of the past few days.

How can the leader of the free world be so profoundly unintellectual and ignorant?  (And yes, that is a rhetorical question.  I know we’re talking about Obama here, but it’s still shocking.)

Obama’s belief in the power of his own rhetoric

Ronald Reagan, speaking to Evangelicals about the Soviet Union, in 1983:

Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness — pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world…. I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man.

(See also Reagan on the crackdowns in Poland.)

Natan Sharansky, regarding the power Reagan’s words gave dissidents in their daily fight against the cognitive dissonance created by living under a Soviet regime that routinely perverted simple truths:

It was the great brilliant moment when we learned that Ronald Reagan had proclaimed the Soviet Union an Evil Empire before the entire world. This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell’s Newspeak was dead. President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union. It was one of the most important, freedom-affirming declarations, and we all instantly knew it. For us, that was the moment that really marked the end for them, and the beginning for us. The lie had been exposed and could never, ever be untold now. This was the end of Lenin’s “Great October Bolshevik Revolution” and the beginning of a new revolution, a freedom revolution — Reagan’s Revolution.

Barack Obama regarding citizen protests in Iran against a manifestly rigged election:

“It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling … in Iranian elections,” Obama said. “What I will repeat, and what I said yesterday, is when I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, … it is of concern to me and it is of concern to the American people. That is not how governments should interact with their people, and it is my hope the Iranian people will make the right steps in order for them to be able to express their voices.”

to meddle (verb):

to involve oneself in a matter without right or invitation; interfere officiously and unwantedly: Stop meddling in my personal life!

*******************

Iranian citizens went into their election knowing it was rigged.  How could it not have been when the only candidates were four men hand-picked by the mullahs.  Nevertheless, Iranians had at least the illusion of democracy, because they could vote and, presumably, their votes would count as to those four party men.  The disillusion arose because the mullah’s expressed their disdain for even this pale simulation of Democracy.  Rather than allowing the Iranian’s meaningless votes to appear to matter, they thumbed their noses at the whole process and appointed their guy instead.  It’s one thing to suspect that you’re being played for a fool, but still to be able to assume some semblance of dignity.  It’s another thing to be exposed as a fool, and to have the small dram of dignity stripped away entirely.  Shame is a powerful motivator, and the Iranians have been shamed by their own government.

With shame at their back, Iranians have taken to the streets in numbers unseen since the revolution in 1979.  The lines are clear:  on one side are unarmed citizens demanding that their rulers reconcile their pseudo-democratic rhetoric with actual democratic acts; on the other side are guns.  Faced with this situation in the past, Ronald Reagan unashamedly stood up in support of the citizens.  As leader of the free world, Reagan understood that, if he did not speak out for freedom, he would essentially be disarming those brave citizens armed only with their belief in the American concept of liberal and the rights of individuals.

Our current President’s approach is strikingly different.  Obama has declined to make any statement whatsoever, because he is afraid to meddle.  The past meddling to which he refers, of course, is to the CIA’s active participation in overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq back in 1953, and putting in his place the Shah of Iran. Now that was some serious meddling.

Here, Obama is not being asked to do anything, he is just being asked to say something.  As we’ve noted before, though, Obama believes his words are the equivalent of acts.  God-like, he believes that, if he were to say “let there be . . . something (such as light),” that means that there will be this . . . something (such as light).  For this reason, he believes that his taking a Reaganesque posture and speaking out openly against evil, corruption, and antidemocratic impulses is identical to the physical act of placing a bomb under the Mullahs and lighting the fuse.  In his own mind, his powers of speech are so tremendous that thought and deed are inseparable.

Taking away Obama’s belief in his own mystical powers, Reagan has proven that speech can change people’s behaviors.  There is tremendous power in making a moral speech at a pivotal time.  That was what Sharansky was saying about Reagan’s mere words:  when you live in a corrupt society that forces people to accept as true things their own senses tell them are false, having someone “call a spade a spade” is, in fact, the equivalent of letting there be light.  Speaking truth to evil shines a light on that evil and lets oppressed people believe in themselves and their cause.

The importance of speaking truth to evil is incalculable.  For people who have no tangible weapons, their only weapon is their belief in the truth.  Without that, they are simply so many targets for well-armed totalitarian regime.

What this means is that Obama, though his silence is in fact meddling, because he’s taking sides.  Without creating a light of freedom to shine the way for Iran’s oppressed masses, he is casting his (and America’s) whole weight on the side with the guns.  There is no middle ground here.  You’re either for freedom or you’re against it, and if you refuse to raise your voice for freedom, you’ve loaded another bullet in the oppressor’s gun.

Obama, Israel, Iran and other stuff

In one paragraph, Richard Baehr says so much:

Voters can be fooled, but they can tell the difference between a friend and a bully. Obama made the decision to bully Israel over settlements, and make it the focus of his Middle East strategy. The events in Iran over the weekend show the stupidity of the American approach of trying to make nice with the mullahs. Israeli settlements have zero to do with what is going on in Iran, and the Iranians have swatted back Obama’s diplomatic feelers like a weak second serve.

Read the rest here.

Iranian meltdown? *UPDATE*

I’m too ill-informed to opine intelligently on what’s going on in Iran right now.  I know the election was not a free election, because the Mad Mullah’s hand-selected four candidates.  I know Obama was either naive or evil to suggest otherwise.  I know that the outcome was almost certainly a foregone conclusion (the Mullahs wanted Ahmadinejad to win).  And I know that the Iranian people have arrived at a pivotal moment.

In 1979, that pivotal moment meant a complete regime change, and perhaps this pivotal moment will too.  I’m not too optimistic, though, because I’m unaware of either a clear ideology or a recognized figurehead driving the change.  The Iranian people are mad that even their rigged election was then faked, but they’re not coherent.

It was different in 1979.  Back then, the regime change had an ideology in Islamism, and a figurehead in the person of Ayatollah Khomeni.  This time, the outraged Iranians are a giant body, without a head.  I think it’s that headless quality that leads those who pay attention to these things to fear that this will be a Tienanmen moment, where people rise up but, without anything more than frustration backing them, collapse again when the government brings in its tanks.

Nevertheless, as with Tienanmen, maybe the people are planting seeds.  China is certainly not a free country, but it did change after 1989.  From that moment forward, the party leaders embarked upon the interesting experiment of a totalitarian, ostensibly communist dictatorship with a semi-capitalist economic model. My sense is that the country is still more oppressive than anything a free people could countenance, but that it is a more free country than it was before.

Perhaps something wonderful will come out of what’s happening in Iran.  Perhaps the people will break free of the chains that have bound them for 30 years.  Or perhaps they’ll rattle the cage so much that the powers that be are forced to change, albeit slightly more slowly than with a turn-on-a-dime revolution.  Or (and this is the bad thing) perhaps the Mad Mullahs will clamp down with such iron fists that the concept of freedom in Iran will die for another 30 years — and we will continue to fear the time bomb planted within such easy reach of so much of the free world.

Two more things.  First, if you’re interested not just in the facts, but in understanding those facts, I can’t do better than to recommend ThreatsWatch.Org.  My friend Steve Schippert is keeping an especially close eye on things in Iran and his insights are first rate.  He’s also alive to the human moments, as with this picture of a woman engaged in an extraordinary act of bravery.  He’s also a little optimistic:  “Follow the women of Iran. For, as go the women of Iran, so will go the men. For they will be the barometer of revolution.”  Wouldn’t it be nice if, in a Muslim corner of the world, women could lead the charge?

Second, I was wondering how many revolutions (or attempted revolutions) have played out in years ending in “9.”  The French Revolution began in 1789, the German revolution creating the Weimar Republic began in 1919, the Iranian Revolution began in 1979, the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the Tienanmen uprising were in 1989, and this moment of Iranian fury is taking place in 2009.  There are also a lot of “8” years.  Revolutions swept across Europe in 1848 and again in 1968.  Is there something about the end of a decade that fires people up?

UPDATE:  Terresa, who blogs at Noisy Room and is the moving spirit behind Media Mythbusters, provides links to a handful of photos showing fighting in the streets of Iran:

I remember 1979.  Will my children remember 2009?