Saturday, January 07, 2006

Mona Charen: Spielberg's Moral Confusion

January 06, 2006, 7:10 a.m.

Munich’s problem.
By Mona Charen

Around the globe — but particularly in the Arab world — anti-Semites whine that the Jews “control” Hollywood. It’s true that there are many prominent Jews in the movie business, but as Steven Spielberg’s Munich amply demonstrates, it little profits the Jewish people.

Munich is a well-crafted movie, but it is a deeply and disturbingly dishonest one. Many moviegoers were not even born in 1972, and many who were alive will scarcely remember the details. Do moviemakers owe nothing to them? Do they owe nothing to the truth? This is not Oliver Stone’s JFK, but for that reason its effect may be more insidious. The film looks like history but it is a morality play of the artist’s imagination. Spielberg uses real historical figures like Golda Meir as props, putting words in their mouths that they not only did not say, but would never have said. During the opening credits, the audience is informed that the film is “inspired by real events.” That could mean anything — but movie audiences probably will not parse the words with lawyerly care. They will read it in the context of a film that offers generous servings of verisimilitude. There are clips of sportscaster Jim McKay reporting from the Munich Olympics in 1972, as well as the voice of Peter Jennings narrating the harrowing events. Some of the details of the kidnapping and murder of the eleven Israeli athletes are well-researched. But as CC Colton warned, “Falsehood is never so successful as when she baits her hook with truth.”

Munich is actually a misnomer, for the film isn’t so much about what happened in Munich as what supposedly happened afterward. Though Israel has never officially acknowledged the fact, it is unofficially acknowledged that following the terrorist atrocity at Munich, the Mossad tracked down and executed a number of the Black September terrorists who were responsible. Munich follows a team of Israeli Mossad agents assigned to kill the terrorists one by one.

The screenplay (by gay activist Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America, and Eric Roth whose previous credits include Forrest Gump) is based on the widely doubted 1984 book Vengeance by George Jonas. Jonas based his tale on the word of one Israeli who claimed to have headed a clandestine assassination squad for the Mossad. But Jonas was the second, not the first author to whom this particular Israeli had peddled this tale of “Avner,” the Israeli hit man. The first, according to Time, was a writer named Rinker Buck who was offered an advance from Simon and Schuster. But the deal fizzled when Buck traveled to Europe to check his informant’s information and found that “he was changing his story daily.” Buck said he could not write the book in good conscience. Jonas apparently could. And while the book has been debunked for 20 years, Spielberg saw fit to build a movie upon it.

Though the film portrays the violent brutality of the Palestinian terrorists at Munich, it does not even begin to convey the context. One of the themes of Munich is that vengeance begets vengeance in an endless cycle of pointless violence. Yet the murder of the Israeli Olympic team was utterly unprovoked — unless one is willing to accept the terrorists’ logic that the very existence of Israel represents provocation enough. Following the murders of eleven Israeli athletes on German soil a mere 27 years after the Holocaust, the Olympic Games were suspended for a day. The Olympic flag and the flags of most competing nations were lowered to half-staff. But the Arab nations insisted upon flying their flags at full mast. Avery Brundage, president of the International Olympic Committe, praised the Olympic movement in a speech after the massacre, but said not one word about the dead Israelis.

Of the terrorists who took part in the Munich attack, three were imprisoned in German jails. Just a few weeks later, PLO terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa plane and threatened to kill the passengers unless the three Munich terrorists were released. Germany promptly complied.

With all due respect to Spielberg’s artistic muse, it is all too predictable that a film portraying Israelis in a sympathetic light is just not in the cards right now. Righteous anger and robust self-defense are out (at least among Hollywood liberals). Today, we must have nothing but shades of gray. As Spielberg acknowledged to Time, he believes that “a response to a response doesn’t really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual motion machine.” Terrorists kill, but so do Israelis (and Americans). Each is avenged and both sides become poisoned and corrupted by the endless minuet of murder. Yes, alright, some are killers of innocents and some are avengers of innocents, but in the end, the movie seems to ask, "Does it really matter?" Throughout this brooding thriller, the members of the Mossad team are tormented by doubts, to the point where the protagonist, Avner, eventually abandons Israel altogether. Golda Meir (Israel’s prime minister at the time) is also portrayed as defying her better nature. In ordering the targeted assassinations, she sighs, “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values.”

Not only is there no record of Meir saying anything like this, there is every reason to believe that she would not say it, particularly not in this context. In what sense was targeting the killers of innocents a betrayal of Israeli or Jewish or Western values? Nations are fully entitled and in fact required to protect their citizens. Israel was engaged in a war with Palestinian terrorists, just as we are now engaged in a war with al Qaeda. Perhaps Kushner and Roth and Spielberg would all be more comfortable if our post-capture plans for Osama bin Laden included a stint in a comfortable federal prison — not Guantanamo — with the full panoply of constitutional protections. But few Americans would feel their souls compromised if an American Special Forces guy simply shot him through the head.

Besides, reasonable people understand that there is a moral chasm that separates Israel from the terrorists. Then and now, terrorists target innocent civilians. Their aim is to cause despair, grief, and fear among their enemies and to gain the attention of the world. They are indifferent to the suffering they cause — indeed, even celebrate it. Israelis (and Americans) go out of their way to prevent harm to innocent civilians — even at severe risk to themselves. In Jenin in 2002 the Israeli army sent soldiers to locate terrorists in door to door fighting rather than risk innocent civilian lives by using tanks, helicopters, or planes to attack the terror stronghold. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers were killed who would not have died if Israel had used more indiscriminate violence.

Spielberg’s dishonor goes even deeper. It isn’t just that he places wanton killers and avengers on the same moral plane, he also badly distorts the underlying issues and seems to accept the Arab version of reality, that is, that Israel’s founding was somehow illegitimate. “No one would give it to us, so we had to take it” explains Avner’s mother about the land of Israel in a key scene. This is consistent with screenwriter Tony Kushner’s view that establishing a state means “f***ing people over.” That is a lazy and stupid misreading of history. Jews have lived in that land for thousands of years. The land the European Jews settled in the late 19th century was legally purchased and then vastly improved, bringing a swell of Arab immigration to the area. Still, the modern state of Israel would have been a tiny enclave surrounding the entirely Jewish city of Tel Aviv (hard by a Palestinian state) if five Arab armies had not descended upon it in hopes of wiping it off the map in 1948.

The Palestinian spokesman in the film is permitted to wax eloquent about the suffering of Palestinians in refugee camps. But in 1972, those camps had been under Israeli control for only six years. Before that, they were maintained by the Arab governments who hoped to use the miserable Palestinian refugees as human time bombs against the Jewish state.

The movie closes with Avner in the foreground and the towers of the World Trade Center rising behind him. The unsubtle message: We have brought the violence of September 11 upon ourselves. How? By fighting back. One of the team members, the bomb maker, pleads with Avner to abort his mission, crying “Jews are supposed to be righteous.” This is the liberal view that we see adumbrated daily about America’s war on terror. To be righteous is to be passive and weak. To be righteous is, to use Spielberg’s words “to talk until we’re blue in the gills.”
Robert Frost understood this mindset perfectly. He said “A liberal is man too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel.” We know what happens to Jews who don’t fight or can’t fight back. (Spielberg made another movie about that.) Now he argues that self-defense is a moral taint. He is confused. It is just a shame that he inflicts his moral confusion on the rest of us.

— Mona Charen, a nationally syndicated columnist, is author, most recently, of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help (And the Rest of Us).

Friday, January 06, 2006

Georgetown's Capitulation to Radical Islam

By Joe Kaufman and Jeffrey Epstein January 6, 2006

Georgetown University was built with a Catholic and Jesuit identity. This bit of information is proudly displayed on the school’s website. But like Bethlehem in Israel, that identity is quickly being lost to a radical strain of Islam, as a counter-terror symposium has been abandoned and a pro-terror conference has been confirmed. Indeed, one of America’s most prestigious universities appears to be under siege.

Fearing violent reprisal from militant Muslim members of their student body, the school’s conference center rejected an educational symposium being hosted by America’s Truth Forum (formerly the People’s Truth Forum), a non-partisan, fact-based organization whose sole mission is to educate the American people on topics of national security. In this case, the subject matter to be discussed involved the “Underlying Roots of Terrorism: The Radical Islamist Threat to World Peace and National Security.”

The official statement from the General Manager of the Georgetown University Conference Center (a.k.a. Marriott Georgetown) was as follows: “Your event is too controversial to be held on the property. This decision is based upon business considerations, as the event would call for heightened security since protestors might be attracted from both the student body and off campus. I’m concerned that these protestors might block the main hotel entrance, leading to confrontations with hotel guests and/or room cancellations.”

While the counter-terror symposium was shunned, an organization associated with violence has been awarded a forum. From February 17 - 19, the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), an activist group that has expressed its willingness to work with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, will be holding its “Fifth Annual Divestment Conference” on Georgetown University’s campus. At past events, shouts of “Kill the Jews” and “Death to Israel” could be heard amongst the crowd. And according to a news report, during PSM’s last conference, when a resolution to condemn terrorism was voted down, “the delegates erupted in cheers.”

When PSM announced its event, it’s interesting to see who they sent a press release to. A site that devotes a page to the release, Palestine Monitor, is said by one source to be a “PRO-TERRORIST SITE.” This is easy to understand, as the website contains numerous pages glorifying the Intifada (uprising) against Israel. Another location that prominently displays the press release is Ramallah Online, a hate site that equates the Jewish Star (Star of David) with the Nazi Swastika.

Not wanting to anger its on-campus insurgency, the university has remained hush about the event. The consideration of a small matter of money may also be on Georgetown’s mind. The PSM conference is coming on the heels of a $20 million donation to the school, given by a fairly effluent Saudi sheikh, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. This is the same sheikh who had previously donated $27 million to a telethon that raised money for the families of suicide bombers.

In an article in Georgetown’s newspaper, The Hoya, Saad Omar, the Vice President of the Muslim Students Association, stated that “any demonstration that might result from the conference would be restrained and unlikely to turn into rioting” and that he has “not seen a tendency toward rioting in the student body.”

If this is so – that rioting is unlikely – why would Georgetown’s conference center deny America’s Truth Forum from holding its event, whilst stating otherwise (heightened security, confrontations with hotel guests)? Could it be that the university is only concerned with the group’s stance against radical Islam?

Either Georgetown is suffering from an identity crises or it has completely capitulated to the enemy by replacing Old Glory’s stars and stripes with a green crescent and a sword. The infiltration of radical Islam into Georgetown University is a tremendous blow to this once great educational institution. Unfortunately, Georgetown is not alone in this respect, as many universities across America are falling into the radical trap. As this trend continues, much can be said about the potential of losing the war on the home front.
We are looking at a near future, when our country will have to worry less about the danger from terrorists abroad and more about imploding (or exploding) from within.

America’s Truth Forum

Like most well-intentioned and critical grassroots endeavors, America’s Truth Forum has met with resistance from those who are devoid of the facts and those ignorant to the immediacy of the situation. Fortunately, the organization has persevered against “formidable” odds and has amassed tremendous support.

America’s Truth Forum has taken on the task of educating the American people on the threat posed by radical Islamofascism – a wickedness which not only threatens our national security but our very existence. The organization is neither political nor agenda-driven. It is not an opportunistic special interest group. Its sole mission is to provide solid, fact-based, first-source information to the American people.

America’s Truth Forum has assembled a panel of globally recognized, counter-terrorism experts to speak at its event. Each of the panel members has appeared as a counter-terrorism authority on the many news channel talk shows, and each has been published on the subject, some of them numerous times. Their areas of expertise range from having provided counter-terrorism training for our government agencies to having seen the horrors of radical Islamist terror first hand. Also slated to join the panel is a former Palestinian terrorist, who will provide his first-hand knowledge of radical Islam’s terrorist jihad. Many of these speakers have indicated that nothing like this has ever been attempted before and have expressed enthusiasm for the project.

The symposium has been scheduled for April 29, 2006 in the greater Washington area. A forthcoming press release will identify participants and detail registration procedures.

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Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the host of the Politics of Terrorism radio show. Jeffrey Epstein is the President of America’s Truth Forum.

Charles Krauthammer: A Calamity for Israel

January 6, 2006
The Washington Post
Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- The stroke suffered by Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon could prove to be one of the great disasters in the country's near-60-year history. As I write this, Sharon's condition remains uncertain, but the severity of his stroke makes it unlikely that he will survive, let alone return to power. That could be disastrous because Sharon represented, indeed embodied, the emergence of a rational, farsighted national idea that seemed poised in the coming elections to create a stable governing political center for the first time in decades.

For a generation, Israeli politics have offered two alternatives. The left said: We have to negotiate peace with the Palestinians. The right said: There's no one to talk to because they don't want to make peace; they want to destroy us, so we stay in the occupied territories and try to integrate them into Israel.

The left was given its chance with the 1993 Oslo peace accords. They proved a fraud and a deception. The PLO used Israeli concessions to create an armed and militant Palestinian terror apparatus right in the heart of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel's offer of an extremely generous peace at Camp David in the summer of 2000 was met with a savage terror campaign, the second intifada, that killed a thousand Jews. (Given Israel's tiny size, the American equivalent would be 50,000 dead.)

With the left then discredited, Israel turned to the right, electing Sharon in 2001. But the right's idea of hanging onto the territories indefinitely was untenable. Ruling a young, radicalized, growing Arab population committed to Palestinian independence was not only too costly but ultimately futile.

Sharon's genius was to seize upon and begin implementing a third way. With a negotiated peace illusory and a Greater Israel untenable, he argued that the only way to security was a unilateral redrawing of Israel's boundaries by building a fence around a new Israel and withdrawing Israeli soldiers and settlers from the other side. The other side would become independent Palestine.

Accordingly, Sharon withdrew Israel entirely from Gaza. On the other front, the West Bank, the separation fence now under construction will give the new Palestine about 93 percent of the West Bank. Israel's 7 percent share will encompass a sizable majority of Israelis who live on the West Bank. The rest, everyone understands, will have to evacuate back to Israel.

The success of this fence-plus-unilateral-withdrawal strategy is easily seen in the collapse of the intifada. Palestinian terror attacks are down 90 percent. Israel's economy has revived. In 2005 it grew at the fastest rate in the entire West. Tourists are back and the country has regained its confidence. The Sharon idea of a smaller but secure and demographically Jewish Israel garnered broad public support, marginalized the old parties of the left and right, and was on the verge of electoral success that would establish a new political center to carry on this strategy.

The problem is that the vehicle for this Sharonist centrism, his new Kadima Party, is only a few weeks old, has no institutional structure, and is hugely dependent on the charisma of and public trust in Sharon.

To be sure, Kadima is not a one-man party. It immediately drew large numbers of defectors from the old left and right parties (Labor and Likud), including Cabinet members and members of Parliament. It will not collapse overnight. But Sharon's passing from the scene will weaken it in the coming March elections and will jeopardize its future. Sharon needed time, perhaps just a year or two, to rule the country as Kadima leader, lay down its institutional roots and groom a new generation of party leaders to take over after him.

This will not now happen. There is no one in the country, let alone in his party, with his prestige and standing. Ehud Olmert, his deputy and now acting prime minister, is far less likely to score the kind of electoral victory that would allow a stable governing majority.

Kadima represents an idea whose time has come. But not all ideas whose time has come realize themselves. They need real historical actors to carry them through. Sharon was a historical actor of enormous proportion, having served in every one of Israel's wars from its founding in 1948, having almost single-handedly saved Israel with his daring crossing of the Suez Canal in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and now having broken Israel's left-right political duopoly that had left the country bereft of any strategic ideas to navigate the post-Oslo world. Sharon put Israel on the only rational strategic path out of that wreckage. But, alas, he had taken his country only halfway there when he himself was taken away. And he left no Joshua.

© 2005, Washington Post Writers Group

Thursday, January 05, 2006

P. David Hornik: Iran, and the World, at the Brink

P. David Hornik
January 5, 2006

The news about Iran always gets worse. On Wednesday The Guardian reported on a “western intelligence assessment,”dated July 1, 2005, that “draws upon material gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies” and could seemingly shake even Western Europe out of its complacency and pacifism if that was still possible.

The Guardian says that according to the 55-page assessment, “the Iranian government has been successfully scouring Europe for the sophisticated equipment needed to develop a nuclear bomb. . . . Scientists in Tehran are also shopping for parts for a ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe, with”—directly quoting from the report’s conclusion—“import requests and acquisitions ... registered almost daily.”

The Guardian avers that “it is the detailed assessment of Iran’s nuclear purchasing programme that will most alarm western leaders, who have long refused to believe Tehran’s insistence that it is not interested in developing nuclear weapons and is trying only to develop nuclear power for electricity.”

Those familiar with the West’s tendency to “sell its enemies the rope” will not be shocked to learn that “Iran has developed an extensive web of front companies, official bodies, academic institutes and middlemen dedicated to obtaining—in western Europe and in the former Soviet Union—the expertise, training, and equipment for nuclear programmes, missile development, and biological and chemical weapons arsenals.”

One might think that if the web is so extensive, more people would get alarmed about what the Iranians are up to. According to The Guardian, “the leak of the intelligence report may signal a growing frustration at Iran’s refusal to bow to western demands that it abandon its programme to produce fuel for a Russian-built nuclear reactor due to come on stream this year.” Where there is such frustration, is there hope?

The intelligence report also indicates what kind of world can be expected if the West keeps ignoring the dangerous trends that confront it: “It concludes that Syria and Pakistan have also been buying technology and chemicals needed to develop rocket programmes and to enrich uranium. It outlines the role played by Russia in the escalating Middle East arms build-up, and examines the part that dozens of Chinese front companies have played in North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.”

For now, though, at center stage is the Iranian despot, whom Charles Krauthammer described as a “certifiable lunatic . . . on the verge of acquiring weapons of the apocalypse,” while predicting unreassuringly that “no one will do anything about it.” Iran itself doesn’t seem worried, having, The Guardian notes, “raised the stakes in its dispute with the United States and the European Union [on Tuesday] by notifying the International Atomic Energy Authority that it intended to resume nuclear fuel research next week.”

On one side, then, is the current most virulent proponent of the Islamist death cult, concerned only with power and subjugation and willing to wreak any conceivable mayhem. On the other side is an entity called the West, reputedly in love with life or at least with humane ideals, reluctant to fight even for genuinely held values, and so fractured that it is hard to speak of it as a single entity.

Against the Islamist death cult it is not reassuring to posit Western Europe with its declining birth rates, enduring cult of America- and Israel-hatred, and belief in “soft power.” For a couple of years now, in a sort of division of labor, America has done most of the actual fighting in Iraq while Britain, France, and Germany “took on” Iran by trying to talk and bribe it out of its designs. Do not expect the abject failure of this exercise in “soft power,” coupled with relatively small-scale eruptions of Islamist mayhem in Spain, Britain, and France, to jog Europe to the point that it would credibly threaten Iran, let alone act against it. Europe seems too far gone; a civilization that cannot sustain itself demographically seems unlikely to fight for what little of life it clings to.

Then there is Israel, where, despite its own descent into appeasement and delusion in the Oslo era, the Iranian lunatic’s threats have a convincing resonance across the political spectrum. No Israeli government would face an internal political problem in attacking Iran, but it would face many operational ones—not only involving distance or the size of its air force, but also the surrounding terror enclaves that Israel has allowed to grow in Gaza, the West Bank, and Southern Lebanon, which, along with Iran itself, would pose a threat of devastating retaliation. Israel cannot be counted out, but its position is precarious.

That leaves the United States, far superior to either Europe or Israel in operational capability, and fortunately only partly infected with the self-negation virus. A sector of the American polity cannot, Europe-like, accept that it is at war and is more concerned with pillorying the president for wiretaps on terrorists four years ago than with imminent apocalyptic threats. The sane, strong America is again the world’s main hope.

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P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Jerusalem who has contributed recently to The Jerusalem Post, The American Spectator Online, and Israeli news-views websites.He can be reached

Kenneth Timmerman: War Within Range

Kenneth R. Timmerman
January 5, 2006

The massive stroke that cut down Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon late on Wednesday night (Jan. 4) not only throws Israeli politics into turmoil. It also marks the likely starting point of the coming nuclear showdown that will pit the Jewish state and the free world against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Vice President Dick Cheney noted the inevitable nearly one year ago. He told talk radio host Don Imus just minutes before the inauguration on January 20, 2005 that “the Israelis might well decide to act first” should they conclude that Iran had acquired “significant nuclear capability.”

Since then, many things have happened. In February 2005, the U.S. announced it would sell 500 conventional “bunker busting” bombs to Israel, that could be used to take out buried nuclear and missile sites in Iran. But as reality sank in of what an effective military strike against 60 to 70 Iranian sites would require, Prime Minister Sharon – a long-time battlefield general – had second thoughts.

Unilateral Israeli action, without provocation from Iran, could unleash a diplomatic, economic and military backlash such as the Jewish state had never witnessed since 1948, Sharon argued. After meeting with President Bush at his Texas ranch last April, Sharon made a strategic decision – against the advice of his own generals and intelligence staff – to place his bets on U.S.-backed nuclear negotiations with Iran led by the European Union. Almost no one really believed those negotiations would succeed. The Europeans expressed mounting exasperation as Tehran broke its promises repeatedly, closing nuclear sites to inspectors and resuming banned nuclear processing. Faced with the impatience of his own military, Sharon’s reasoning was simple. Every other option was worse.

On Dec. 5, Israel’s military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, told foreign journalists in Tel Aviv that he believed diplomacy had reached a dead end. “The fact that the Iranians are successful time after time in getting away from international pressure ... encourages them to continue their nuclear project,” Gen. Halutz said. “I believe that the political means that are used by the Europeans and the U.S. to convince the Iranians to stop the project will not succeed.”

When asked by one reporter how far Israel was ready to go to stop Iran’s nuclear projects, Halutz quipped, “2000 kilometers.” That’s the equivalent of 1,250 miles, the distance by air between Israel and Iran’s main nuclear and missile sites.

One doesn’t need secret intelligence information or an inside source in Tehran to decrypt the intentions of Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Revolutionary Guards commanders who surround him. Over the past three months he has gone out of his way to tell the world, in one forum after another, that his regime intends to “wipe Israel from the map” and “destroy America.”

But consider just a few recent developments that have not been widely reported outside of Tehran:

* On January 3, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps began a two day seminar in Tehran devoted to nuclear-biological-chemical warfare and new defense technologies, that included lectures by Iranian experts on electromagnetic pulse weapons, graphite bombs, and laser-guided bombs. These are the same weapons many Western intelligence analysts believe Iran will attempt to use against us.

* On January 4, three battalions of the IRGC ground forces began three days of NBC military exercises in Semnan province, not far from Iran’s main ballistic missile proving ground.

* In addition to a recent $1 billion arms agreement, announced last month, Russia is now negotiating with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to modernize Iran’s fleet of MiG-29 fighters with state-of-the-art radar, electronic counter-measures, and reconnaissance systems, specifically designed to counter the threat of Israeli aircraft. A Rev. Guards buying mission will visit Lukhovitsy and Kalayazin in Russia to view these new systems in February 2006. The Russians have also agreed to sell Iran S-300 anti-missile systems, believed by most experts to be superior to any comparable system currently available on world markets.

* Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, told Iranian TV on January 3 that Israel will “suffer a great loss” if it attacks Iran, noting that Israel has “no strategic depth” and is “within our range.” On the same day Larijani made those remarks, the Islamic Republic authorities sent an official letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, announcing their intention to resume enrichment activities at a variety of nuclear sites across Iran on January 9. The resumption of enrichment activities, which could give Iran the special nuclear material needed to make nuclear weapons, has long been sited by Israel as the “red line” they would not allow Iran to cross.

Iran now appears ready and willing to cross that red line. And with Mr. Sharon sidelined from Israeli politics, Israeli military leaders are unlikely to bet on a prayer and a chance that Iran just might be bluffing.

After all, as Iran’s Larijani himself said, Israel is “within our range.”

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Kenneth R. Timmerman is the author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum, New York), and Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran.

Peggy Noonan: The Steamroller

The road to big government reaches a dead end at Jack Abramoff.

The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, January 5, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

The problem with government is that it is run by people, and people are flawed. They are not virtue machines. We are all of us, even the best of us, vulnerable to the call of the low: to greed, conceit, insensitivity, ruthlessness, the desire to show you're in control, in charge, in command.
If the problem with government is that it is run by people and not, as James Madison put it, angels, the problem with big government is that it is run by a lot of people who are not angels. They can, together and in the aggregate, do much mischief. They can and inevitably will produce a great deal of injustice, corruption and heartlessness.

People in government--people in a huge, sprawling government--often get carried away. And they don't always even mean to. But they are little tiny parts of a large and overwhelming thing. If government is a steamroller, and that is in good part how I see it, the individuals who work in it are the atoms in the steel. The force of forward motion carries them along. There is inevitably an unaccountability, and in time often an indifference about what the steamroller rolls over. All the busy little atoms are watching each other, competing with each other, winning one for their little cluster. And no one is looking out and being protective of what the steamroller is rolling over--traditions, shared beliefs, individual rights, old assumptions, whatever is being rolled over today.

This is essentially why conservatives of my generation and earlier generations don't like big government. They don't even like government. We know we have to have one, that it is necessary, that it can and must do good, that it has real responsibilities that must be met. Madison again, in Federalist 51: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself."

These are wise words.

But conservatives are not supposed to like big government. It's not our job. We're supposed to like freedom and the rights of the individual. (Individuals aren't virtue machines either, but they're less powerful than governments and so generally less damaging.) We're supposed to be on the side of the grass the steamroller flattens.


Twenty-five years ago this month the conservative movement came to Washington, and much good came of its arrival. The argument against big government--its big taxing and big regulating, its bias toward a kind of enforced cultural conformity--was made again and again. The growth of government slowed, its demands to some degree beaten back.
The leadership of the Republican Party was now, in its avowed aims if not its daily practices, antigovernment. The party that was, in its daily operations if not always its avowed intentions, pro-government, the Democrats, remained in effective control of Congress and the courts.
There was progress in the 1980s. The steamroller slowed.

Eleven years ago this month came the Gingrich revolution and the Contract With America. That contract could be boiled down to these words: Stop the Steamroller. Take away its gas, make it smaller, term-limit it. Be on the side of the grass. This movement too did good work--it actually forced upon the federal government a balanced budget--but in the end results were mixed, as political results tend to be. The steamroller rolled on.

What followed was the trauma of the end of the Clinton years, the 2000 election, the Bush administration, and the historic rise in the antisteamroller party of a new operating assumption: that the steamroller will always be with us. And that if it is destined to become always and every year bigger, heavier and more powerful, then you might as well relax and learn how to run it, how to drive it and direct it. Make friends with the steamroller. Run it to your own ends and not the other team's.

This was understandable, especially after 9/11. Defense is expensive; technology has its own demands; the stakes are high.
And yet. All other parts of the government grew. The size and force of it grew in ways that were not at all necessary or crucial.

And learning to accept the steamroller, learning to direct the steamroller, learning in fact to love the steamroller, can get you to some bad places. It can get you to Jack Abramoff. To more size, more action, more corruption. To flawed people who are essentially unaccountable and busy winning their own victories for their own cluster. "I got mine. You got yours?"
Political corruption is always more likely when you fall in love with the steamroller. Or if not loving it accepting it, being "realistic" about it, embracing it.


There's a lot of talk among Republicans that since the Abramoff scandal involves politicians and staff on both sides of the aisle, the public will not punish the Republicans. This assertion is countered by the argument that while the public will likely see the story as one of government corruption, Congress and the White House are run by Republicans, so Republicans will pay the price. I think this is true, but I think it misses a larger point: In some rough way the public expects the party that loves big government to be pretty good at finagling government, playing with it, using it for its own ends. That's kind of what they do. They love the steamroller, of course they love the grease that makes it run. But the anti-big-government party isn't supposed to be so good at it, so enmeshed in it. The antigovernment party isn't supposed to be so good at oiling the steamroller's parts and pushing its levers. And so happy doing the oiling and pushing.
It isn't good to love the steamroller. In the end it can roll right over you, and all you stand for, or stood for.

Is there a way for Republicans to go? Stop trying to fit in. Stop being another atom in the steel. It does no good trying to run a better steamroller. It won't work. Steamrollers are not your friend.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," just out from Penguin, which you can buy from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Thursdays.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mark Steyn: The Century Ahead

It's the Demography, Stupid
The real reason the West is in danger of extinction.
The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, January 4, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Most people reading this have strong stomachs, so let me lay it out as baldly as I can: Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries. There'll probably still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands--probably--just as in Istanbul there's still a building called St. Sophia's Cathedral. But it's not a cathedral; it's merely a designation for a piece of real estate. Likewise, Italy and the Netherlands will merely be designations for real estate. The challenge for those who reckon Western civilization is on balance better than the alternatives is to figure out a way to save at least some parts of the West.

One obstacle to doing that is that, in the typical election campaign in your advanced industrial democracy, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much all parties in the rest of the West are largely about what one would call the secondary impulses of society--government health care, government day care (which Canada's thinking of introducing), government paternity leave (which Britain's just introduced). We've prioritized the secondary impulse over the primary ones: national defense, family, faith and, most basic of all, reproductive activity--"Go forth and multiply," because if you don't you won't be able to afford all those secondary-impulse issues, like cradle-to-grave welfare.

Americans sometimes don't understand how far gone most of the rest of the developed world is down this path: In the Canadian and most Continental cabinets, the defense ministry is somewhere an ambitious politician passes through on his way up to important jobs like the health department. I don't think Don Rumsfeld would regard it as a promotion if he were moved to Health and Human Services.


The design flaw of the secular social-democratic state is that it requires a religious-society birthrate to sustain it. Post-Christian hyperrationalism is, in the objective sense, a lot less rational than Catholicism or Mormonism. Indeed, in its reliance on immigration to ensure its future, the European Union has adopted a 21st-century variation on the strategy of the Shakers, who were forbidden from reproducing and thus could increase their numbers only by conversion. The problem is that secondary-impulse societies mistake their weaknesses for strengths--or, at any rate, virtues--and that's why they're proving so feeble at dealing with a primal force like Islam.

Speaking of which, if we are at war--and half the American people and significantly higher percentages in Britain, Canada and Europe don't accept that proposition--than what exactly is the war about?

We know it's not really a "war on terror." Nor is it, at heart, a war against Islam, or even "radical Islam." The Muslim faith, whatever its merits for the believers, is a problematic business for the rest of us. There are many trouble spots around the world, but as a general rule, it's easy to make an educated guess at one of the participants: Muslims vs. Jews in "Palestine," Muslims vs. Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs. Christians in Africa, Muslims vs. Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs. Russians in the Caucasus, Muslims vs. backpacking tourists in Bali. Like the environmentalists, these guys think globally but act locally.

Yet while Islamism is the enemy, it's not what this thing's about. Radical Islam is an opportunistic infection, like AIDS: It's not the HIV that kills you, it's the pneumonia you get when your body's too weak to fight it off. When the jihadists engage with the U.S. military, they lose--as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. If this were like World War I with those fellows in one trench and us in ours facing them over some boggy piece of terrain, it would be over very quickly. Which the smarter Islamists have figured out. They know they can never win on the battlefield, but they figure there's an excellent chance they can drag things out until Western civilization collapses in on itself and Islam inherits by default.


That's what the war's about: our lack of civilizational confidence. As a famous Arnold Toynbee quote puts it: "Civilizations die from suicide, not murder"--as can be seen throughout much of "the Western world" right now. The progressive agenda--lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism--is collectively the real suicide bomb. Take multiculturalism. The great thing about multiculturalism is that it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures--the capital of Bhutan, the principal exports of Malawi, who cares? All it requires is feeling good about other cultures. It's fundamentally a fraud, and I would argue was subliminally accepted on that basis. Most adherents to the idea that all cultures are equal don't want to live in anything but an advanced Western society. Multiculturalism means your kid has to learn some wretched native dirge for the school holiday concert instead of getting to sing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or that your holistic masseuse uses techniques developed from Native American spirituality, but not that you or anyone you care about should have to live in an African or Native American society. It's a quintessential piece of progressive humbug.

Then September 11 happened. And bizarrely the reaction of just about every prominent Western leader was to visit a mosque: President Bush did, the prince of Wales did, the prime minister of the United Kingdom did, the prime minister of Canada did . . . The premier of Ontario didn't, and so 20 Muslim community leaders had a big summit to denounce him for failing to visit a mosque. I don't know why he didn't. Maybe there was a big backlog, it was mosque drive time, prime ministers in gridlock up and down the freeway trying to get to the Sword of the Infidel-Slayer Mosque on Elm Street. But for whatever reason he couldn't fit it into his hectic schedule. Ontario's citizenship minister did show up at a mosque, but the imams took that as a great insult, like the Queen sending Fergie to open the Commonwealth Games. So the premier of Ontario had to hold a big meeting with the aggrieved imams to apologize for not going to a mosque and, as the Toronto Star's reported it, "to provide them with reassurance that the provincial government does not see them as the enemy."

Anyway, the get-me-to-the-mosque-on-time fever died down, but it set the tone for our general approach to these atrocities. The old definition of a nanosecond was the gap between the traffic light changing in New York and the first honk from a car behind. The new definition is the gap between a terrorist bombing and the press release from an Islamic lobby group warning of a backlash against Muslims. In most circumstances, it would be considered appallingly bad taste to deflect attention from an actual "hate crime" by scaremongering about a purely hypothetical one. Needless to say, there is no campaign of Islamophobic hate crimes. If anything, the West is awash in an epidemic of self-hate crimes. A commenter on Tim Blair's Web site in Australia summed it up in a note-perfect parody of a Guardian headline: "Muslim Community Leaders Warn of Backlash from Tomorrow Morning's Terrorist Attack." Those community leaders have the measure of us.

Radical Islam is what multiculturalism has been waiting for all along. In "The Survival of Culture," I quoted the eminent British barrister Helena Kennedy, Queen's Counsel. Shortly after September 11, Baroness Kennedy argued on a BBC show that it was too easy to disparage "Islamic fundamentalists." "We as Western liberals too often are fundamentalist ourselves," she complained. "We don't look at our own fundamentalisms."

Well, said the interviewer, what exactly would those Western liberal fundamentalisms be? "One of the things that we are too ready to insist upon is that we are the tolerant people and that the intolerance is something that belongs to other countries like Islam. And I'm not sure that's true."
Hmm. Lady Kennedy was arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance is making us intolerant of other people's intolerance, which is intolerable. And, unlikely as it sounds, this has now become the highest, most rarefied form of multiculturalism. So you're nice to gays and the Inuit? Big deal. Anyone can be tolerant of fellows like that, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of pleasure to the multiculti masochists. In other words, just as the AIDS pandemic greatly facilitated societal surrender to the gay agenda, so 9/11 is greatly facilitating our surrender to the most extreme aspects of the multicultural agenda.

For example, one day in 2004, a couple of Canadians returned home, to Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto. They were the son and widow of a fellow called Ahmed Said Khadr, who back on the Pakistani-Afghan frontier was known as "al-Kanadi." Why? Because he was the highest-ranking Canadian in al Qaeda--plenty of other Canucks in al Qaeda, but he was the Numero Uno. In fact, one could argue that the Khadr family is Canada's principal contribution to the war on terror. Granted they're on the wrong side (if you'll forgive my being judgmental) but no can argue that they aren't in the thick of things. One of Mr. Khadr's sons was captured in Afghanistan after killing a U.S. Special Forces medic. Another was captured and held at Guantanamo. A third blew himself up while killing a Canadian soldier in Kabul. Pa Khadr himself died in an al Qaeda shootout with Pakistani forces in early 2004. And they say we Canadians aren't doing our bit in this war!

In the course of the fatal shootout of al-Kanadi, his youngest son was paralyzed. And, not unreasonably, Junior didn't fancy a prison hospital in Peshawar. So Mrs. Khadr and her boy returned to Toronto so he could enjoy the benefits of Ontario government health care. "I'm Canadian, and I'm not begging for my rights," declared the widow Khadr. "I'm demanding my rights."


As they always say, treason's hard to prove in court, but given the circumstances of Mr. Khadr's death it seems clear that not only was he providing "aid and comfort to the Queen's enemies" but that he was, in fact, the Queen's enemy. The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the Royal 22nd Regiment and other Canucks have been participating in Afghanistan, on one side of the conflict, and the Khadr family had been over there participating on the other side. Nonetheless, the prime minister of Canada thought Boy Khadr's claims on the public health system was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his own deep personal commitment to "diversity." Asked about the Khadrs' return to Toronto, he said, "I believe that once you are a Canadian citizen, you have the right to your own views and to disagree."

That's the wonderful thing about multiculturalism: You can choose which side of the war you want to fight on. When the draft card arrives, just tick "home team" or "enemy," according to taste. The Canadian prime minister is a typical late-stage Western politician: He could have said, well, these are contemptible people and I know many of us are disgusted at the idea of our tax dollars being used to provide health care for a man whose Canadian citizenship is no more than a flag of convenience, but unfortunately that's the law and, while we can try to tighten it, it looks like this lowlife's got away with it. Instead, his reflex instinct was to proclaim this as a wholehearted demonstration of the virtues of the multicultural state. Like many enlightened Western leaders, the Canadian prime minister will be congratulating himself on his boundless tolerance even as the forces of intolerance consume him.

That, by the way, is the one point of similarity between the jihad and conventional terrorist movements like the IRA or ETA. Terror groups persist because of a lack of confidence on the part of their targets: The IRA, for example, calculated correctly that the British had the capability to smash them totally but not the will. So they knew that while they could never win militarily, they also could never be defeated. The Islamists have figured similarly. The only difference is that most terrorist wars are highly localized. We now have the first truly global terrorist insurgency because the Islamists view the whole world the way the IRA view the bogs of Fermanagh: They want it, and they've calculated that our entire civilization lacks the will to see them off.

We spend a lot of time at The New Criterion attacking the elites, and we're right to do so. The commanding heights of the culture have behaved disgracefully for the last several decades. But if it were just a problem with the elites, it wouldn't be that serious: The mob could rise up and hang 'em from lampposts--a scenario that's not unlikely in certain Continental countries. But the problem now goes way beyond the ruling establishment. The annexation by government of most of the key responsibilities of life--child-raising, taking care of your elderly parents--has profoundly changed the relationship between the citizen and the state. At some point--I would say socialized health care is a good marker--you cross a line, and it's very hard then to persuade a citizenry enjoying that much government largesse to cross back. In National Review recently, I took issue with that line Gerald Ford always uses to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences: "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." Actually, you run into trouble long before that point: A government big enough to give you everything you want still isn't big enough to get you to give anything back. That's what the French and German political classes are discovering.


Go back to that list of local conflicts I mentioned. The jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you're not shy about taking on the Israelis, the Russians, the Indians and the Nigerians, why wouldn't you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Danes and New Zealanders?

So the jihadists are for the most part doing no more than giving us a prod in the rear as we sleepwalk to the cliff. When I say "sleepwalk," it's not because we're a blasé culture. On the contrary, one of the clearest signs of our decline is the way we expend so much energy worrying about the wrong things. If you've read Jared Diamond's bestselling book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," you'll know it goes into a lot of detail about Easter Island going belly up because they chopped down all their trees. Apparently that's why they're not a G-8 member or on the U.N. Security Council. Same with the Greenlanders and the Mayans and Diamond's other curious choices of "societies." Indeed, as the author sees it, pretty much every society collapses because it chops down its trees.

Poor old Diamond can't see the forest because of his obsession with the trees. (Russia's collapsing even as it's undergoing reforestation.) One way "societies choose to fail or succeed" is by choosing what to worry about. The Western world has delivered more wealth and more comfort to more of its citizens than any other civilization in history, and in return we've developed a great cult of worrying. You know the classics of the genre: In 1968, in his bestselling book "The Population Bomb," the eminent scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines--hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." In 1972, in their landmark study "The Limits to Growth," the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and gas by 1993.


None of these things happened. In fact, quite the opposite is happening. We're pretty much awash in resources, but we're running out of people--the one truly indispensable resource, without which none of the others matter. Russia's the most obvious example: it's the largest country on earth, it's full of natural resources, and yet it's dying--its population is falling calamitously.

The default mode of our elites is that anything that happens--from terrorism to tsunamis--can be understood only as deriving from the perniciousness of Western civilization. As Jean-Francois Revel wrote, "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."

And even though none of the prognostications of the eco-doom blockbusters of the 1970s came to pass, all that means is that 30 years on, the end of the world has to be rescheduled. The amended estimated time of arrival is now 2032. That's to say, in 2002, the United Nations Global Environmental Outlook predicted "the destruction of 70 percent of the natural world in thirty years, mass extinction of species. . . . More than half the world will be afflicted by water shortages, with 95 percent of people in the Middle East with severe problems . . . 25 percent of all species of mammals and 10 percent of birds will be extinct . . ."
Etc., etc., for 450 pages. Or to cut to the chase, as the Guardian headlined it, "Unless We Change Our Ways, The World Faces Disaster."

Well, here's my prediction for 2032: unless we change our ways the world faces a future . . . where the environment will look pretty darn good. If you're a tree or a rock, you'll be living in clover. It's the Italians and the Swedes who'll be facing extinction and the loss of their natural habitat.

There will be no environmental doomsday. Oil, carbon dioxide emissions, deforestation: none of these things is worth worrying about. What's worrying is that we spend so much time worrying about things that aren't worth worrying about that we don't worry about the things we should be worrying about. For 30 years, we've had endless wake-up calls for things that aren't worth waking up for. But for the very real, remorseless shifts in our society--the ones truly jeopardizing our future--we're sound asleep. The world is changing dramatically right now, and hysterical experts twitter about a hypothetical decrease in the Antarctic krill that might conceivably possibly happen so far down the road there are unlikely to be any Italian or Japanese enviro-worriers left alive to be devastated by it.

In a globalized economy, the environmentalists want us to worry about First World capitalism imposing its ways on bucolic, pastoral, primitive Third World backwaters. Yet, insofar as "globalization" is a threat, the real danger is precisely the opposite--that the peculiarities of the backwaters can leap instantly to the First World. Pigs are valued assets and sleep in the living room in rural China--and next thing you know an unknown respiratory disease is killing people in Toronto, just because someone got on a plane. That's the way to look at Islamism: We fret about McDonald's and Disney, but the big globalization success story is the way the Saudis have taken what was 80 years ago a severe but obscure and unimportant strain of Islam practiced by Bedouins of no fixed abode and successfully exported it to the heart of Copenhagen, Rotterdam, Manchester, Buffalo . . .


What's the better bet? A globalization that exports cheeseburgers and pop songs or a globalization that exports the fiercest aspects of its culture? When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 (or 2033, or 2037, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management and Queer Studies degrees). And the hard data on babies around the Western world is that they're running out a lot faster than the oil is. "Replacement" fertility rate--i.e., the number you need for merely a stable population, not getting any bigger, not getting any smaller--is 2.1 babies per woman. Some countries are well above that: the global fertility leader, Somalia, is 6.91, Niger 6.83, Afghanistan 6.78, Yemen 6.75. Notice what those nations have in common?

Scroll way down to the bottom of the Hot One Hundred top breeders and you'll eventually find the United States, hovering just at replacement rate with 2.07 births per woman. Ireland is 1.87, New Zealand 1.79, Australia 1.76. But Canada's fertility rate is down to 1.5, well below replacement rate; Germany and Austria are at 1.3, the brink of the death spiral; Russia and Italy are at 1.2; Spain 1.1, about half replacement rate. That's to say, Spain's population is halving every generation. By 2050, Italy's population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria's by 36%, Estonia's by 52%. In America, demographic trends suggest that the blue states ought to apply for honorary membership of the EU: In the 2004 election, John Kerry won the 16 with the lowest birthrates; George W. Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest. By 2050, there will be 100 million fewer Europeans, 100 million more Americans--and mostly red-state Americans.


As fertility shrivels, societies get older--and Japan and much of Europe are set to get older than any functioning societies have ever been. And we know what comes after old age. These countries are going out of business--unless they can find the will to change their ways. Is that likely? I don't think so. If you look at European election results--most recently in Germany--it's hard not to conclude that, while voters are unhappy with their political establishments, they're unhappy mainly because they resent being asked to reconsider their government benefits and, no matter how unaffordable they may be a generation down the road, they have no intention of seriously reconsidering them. The Scottish executive recently backed down from a proposal to raise the retirement age of Scottish public workers. It's presently 60, which is nice but unaffordable. But the reaction of the average Scots worker is that that's somebody else's problem. The average German worker now puts in 22% fewer hours per year than his American counterpart, and no politician who wishes to remain electorally viable will propose closing the gap in any meaningful way.

This isn't a deep-rooted cultural difference between the Old World and the New. It dates back all the way to, oh, the 1970s. If one wanted to allocate blame, one could argue that it's a product of the U.S. military presence, the American security guarantee that liberated European budgets: instead of having to spend money on guns, they could concentrate on butter, and buttering up the voters. If Washington's problem with Europe is that these are not serious allies, well, whose fault is that? Who, in the years after the Second World War, created NATO as a postmodern military alliance? The "free world," as the Americans called it, was a free ride for everyone else.
And having been absolved from the primal responsibilities of nationhood, it's hardly surprising that European nations have little wish to reshoulder them. In essence, the lavish levels of public health care on the Continent are subsidized by the American taxpayer. And this long-term softening of large sections of the West makes them ill-suited to resisting a primal force like Islam.

There is no "population bomb." There never was. Birthrates are declining all over the world--eventually every couple on the planet may decide to opt for the Western yuppie model of one designer baby at the age of 39. But demographics is a game of last man standing. The groups that succumb to demographic apathy last will have a huge advantage. Even in 1968 Paul Ehrlich and his ilk should have understood that their so-called population explosion was really a massive population adjustment. Of the increase in global population between 1970 and 2000, the developed world accounted for under 9% of it, while the Muslim world accounted for 26%. Between 1970 and 2000, the developed world declined from just under 30% of the world's population to just over 20%, the Muslim nations increased from about 15% to 20%.

Nineteen seventy doesn't seem that long ago. If you're the age many of the chaps running the Western world today are wont to be, your pants are narrower than they were back then and your hair's less groovy, but the landscape of your life--the look of your house, the layout of your car, the shape of your kitchen appliances, the brand names of the stuff in the fridge--isn't significantly different. Aside from the Internet and the cell phone and the CD, everything in your world seems pretty much the same but slightly modified.

And yet the world is utterly altered. Just to recap those bald statistics: In 1970, the developed world had twice as big a share of the global population as the Muslim world: 30% to 15%. By 2000, they were the same: each had about 20%.

And by 2020?

So the world's people are a lot more Islamic than they were back then and a lot less "Western." Europe is significantly more Islamic, having taken in during that period some 20 million Muslims (officially)--or the equivalents of the populations of four European Union countries (Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia). Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the West: In the U.K., more Muslims than Christians attend religious services each week.

Can these trends continue for another 30 years without having consequences? Europe by the end of this century will be a continent after the neutron bomb: The grand buildings will still be standing, but the people who built them will be gone. We are living through a remarkable period: the self-extinction of the races who, for good or ill, shaped the modern world.


What will Europe be like at the end of this process? Who knows? On the one hand, there's something to be said for the notion that America will find an Islamified Europe more straightforward to deal with than M. Chirac, Herr Schroeder & Co. On the other hand, given Europe's track record, getting there could be very bloody. But either way this is the real battlefield. The al Qaeda nutters can never find enough suicidal pilots to fly enough planes into enough skyscrapers to topple America. But unlike us, the Islamists think long-term, and, given their demographic advantage in Europe and the tone of the emerging Muslim lobby groups there, much of what they're flying planes into buildings for they're likely to wind up with just by waiting a few more years. The skyscrapers will be theirs; why knock 'em over?

The latter half of the decline and fall of great civilizations follows a familiar pattern: affluence, softness, decadence, extinction. You don't notice yourself slipping through those stages because usually there's a seductive pol on hand to provide the age with a sly, self-deluding slogan--like Bill Clinton's "It's about the future of all our children." We on the right spent the 1990s gleefully mocking Mr. Clinton's tedious invocation, drizzled like syrup over everything from the Kosovo war to highway appropriations. But most of the rest of the West can't even steal his lame bromides: A society that has no children has no future.

Permanence is the illusion of every age. In 1913, no one thought the Russian, Austrian, German and Turkish empires would be gone within half a decade. Seventy years on, all those fellows who dismissed Reagan as an "amiable dunce" (in Clark Clifford's phrase) assured us the Soviet Union was likewise here to stay. The CIA analysts' position was that East Germany was the ninth biggest economic power in the world. In 1987 there was no rash of experts predicting the imminent fall of the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Pact and the USSR itself.

Yet, even by the minimal standards of these wretched precedents, so-called post-Christian civilizations--as a prominent EU official described his continent to me--are more prone than traditional societies to mistake the present tense for a permanent feature. Religious cultures have a much greater sense of both past and future, as we did a century ago, when we spoke of death as joining "the great majority" in "the unseen world." But if secularism's starting point is that this is all there is, it's no surprise that, consciously or not, they invest the here and now with far greater powers of endurance than it's ever had. The idea that progressive Euro-welfarism is the permanent resting place of human development was always foolish; we now know that it's suicidally so.

To avoid collapse, European nations will need to take in immigrants at a rate no stable society has ever attempted. The CIA is predicting the EU will collapse by 2020. Given that the CIA's got pretty much everything wrong for half a century, that would suggest the EU is a shoo-in to be the colossus of the new millennium. But even a flop spook is right twice a generation. If anything, the date of EU collapse is rather a cautious estimate. It seems more likely that within the next couple of European election cycles, the internal contradictions of the EU will manifest themselves in the usual way, and that by 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on American network news every night. Even if they avoid that, the idea of a childless Europe ever rivaling America militarily or economically is laughable. Sometime this century there will be 500 million Americans, and what's left in Europe will either be very old or very Muslim. Japan faces the same problem: Its population is already in absolute decline, the first gentle slope of a death spiral it will be unlikely ever to climb out of. Will Japan be an economic powerhouse if it's populated by Koreans and Filipinos? Very possibly. Will Germany if it's populated by Algerians? That's a trickier proposition.
Best-case scenario? The Continent winds up as Vienna with Swedish tax rates.
Worst-case scenario: Sharia, circa 2040; semi-Sharia, a lot sooner--and we're already seeing a drift in that direction.
In July 2003, speaking to the U.S. Congress, Tony Blair remarked: "As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible but, in fact, it is transient. The question is: What do you leave behind?"


Excellent question. Britannia will never again wield the unrivalled power she enjoyed at her imperial apogee, but the Britannic inheritance endures, to one degree or another, in many of the key regional players in the world today--Australia, India, South Africa--and in dozens of island statelets from the Caribbean to the Pacific. If China ever takes its place as an advanced nation, it will be because the People's Republic learns more from British Hong Kong than Hong Kong learns from the Little Red Book. And of course the dominant power of our time derives its political character from 18th-century British subjects who took English ideas a little further than the mother country was willing to go.

A decade and a half after victory in the Cold War and end-of-history triumphalism, the "what do you leave behind?" question is more urgent than most of us expected. "The West," as a concept, is dead, and the West, as a matter of demographic fact, is dying.

What will London--or Paris, or Amsterdam--be like in the mid-'30s? If European politicians make no serious attempt this decade to wean the populace off their unsustainable 35-hour weeks, retirement at 60, etc., then to keep the present level of pensions and health benefits the EU will need to import so many workers from North Africa and the Middle East that it will be well on its way to majority Muslim by 2035. As things stand, Muslims are already the primary source of population growth in English cities. Can a society become increasingly Islamic in its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its political character?


This ought to be the left's issue. I'm a conservative--I'm not entirely on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I'm with Mullah Omar on that one. Why then, if your big thing is feminism or abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully intolerant? Who, after all, are going to be the first victims of the West's collapsed birthrates? Even if one were to take the optimistic view that Europe will be able to resist the creeping imposition of Sharia currently engulfing Nigeria, it remains the case that the Muslim world is not notable for setting much store by "a woman's right to choose," in any sense.

I watched that big abortion rally in Washington in 2004, where Ashley Judd and Gloria Steinem were cheered by women waving "Keep your Bush off my bush" placards, and I thought it was the equivalent of a White Russian tea party in 1917. By prioritizing a "woman's right to choose," Western women are delivering their societies into the hands of fellows far more patriarchal than a 1950s sitcom dad. If any of those women marching for their "reproductive rights" still have babies, they might like to ponder demographic realities: A little girl born today will be unlikely, at the age of 40, to be free to prance around demonstrations in Eurabian Paris or Amsterdam chanting "Hands off my bush!"

Just before the 2004 election, that eminent political analyst Cameron Diaz appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to explain what was at stake:

"Women have so much to lose. I mean, we could lose the right to our bodies. . . . If you think that rape should be legal, then don't vote. But if you think that you have a right to your body," she advised Oprah's viewers, "then you should vote."

Poor Cameron. A couple of weeks later, the scary people won. She lost all rights to her body. Unlike Alec Baldwin, she couldn't even move to France. Her body was grounded in Terminal D.
But, after framing the 2004 presidential election as a referendum on the right to rape, Miss Diaz might be interested to know that men enjoy that right under many Islamic legal codes around the world. In his book "The Empty Cradle," Philip Longman asks: "So where will the children of the future come from? Increasingly they will come from people who are at odds with the modern world. Such a trend, if sustained, could drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, gradually creating an anti-market culture dominated by fundamentalism--a new Dark Ages."

Bottom line for Cameron Diaz: There are worse things than John Ashcroft out there.

Mr. Longman's point is well taken. The refined antennae of Western liberals mean that whenever one raises the question of whether there will be any Italians living in the geographical zone marked as Italy a generation or three hence, they cry, "Racism!" To fret about what proportion of the population is "white" is grotesque and inappropriate. But it's not about race, it's about culture. If 100% of your population believes in liberal pluralist democracy, it doesn't matter whether 70% of them are "white" or only 5% are. But if one part of your population believes in liberal pluralist democracy and the other doesn't, then it becomes a matter of great importance whether the part that does is 90% of the population or only 60%, 50%, 45%.

Since the president unveiled the so-called Bush Doctrine--the plan to promote liberty throughout the Arab world--innumerable "progressives" have routinely asserted that there's no evidence Muslims want liberty and, indeed, that Islam is incompatible with democracy. If that's true, it's a problem not for the Middle East today but for Europe the day after tomorrow.
According to a poll taken in 2004, over 60% of British Muslims want to live under Shariah--in the United Kingdom. If a population "at odds with the modern world" is the fastest-breeding group on the planet--if there are more Muslim nations, more fundamentalist Muslims within those nations, more and more Muslims within non-Muslim nations, and more and more Muslims represented in more and more transnational institutions--how safe a bet is the survival of the "modern world"?

Not good.

"What do you leave behind?" asked Tony Blair. There will only be very few and very old ethnic Germans and French and Italians by the midpoint of this century. What will they leave behind? Territories that happen to bear their names and keep up some of the old buildings? Or will the dying European races understand that the only legacy that matters is whether the peoples who will live in those lands after them are reconciled to pluralist, liberal democracy? It's the demography, stupid. And, if they can't muster the will to change course, then "What do you leave behind?" is the only question that matters.

Mr. Steyn is a syndicated columnist and theater critic for The New Criterion, in whose January issue this article appears.

Bill Steigerwald: The Anti-PC Scientific Bible

Bill Steigerwald
January 4, 2006

Tom Bethell's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science is available from the FrontPage Magazine Bookstore for only $19.95.

Global warming, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, the danger to humans of nuclear radiation, the environmental harm of DDT, the miraculous benefits supposedly coming from cloning and human stem cell research, the scientific certainty of Darwinian evolution. These are some of the prevailing scientific myths or mistruths Tom Bethell sets straight in his new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science. Bethell, a conservative English-born journalist known for his excellent writing and critical thinking, is a longtime editor at The American Spectator magazine.
I talked to him by telephone Thursday from his home in Washington, D.C.:

Q: If science is supposed to be about seeking the truth and being neutral, how can it be politically correct or incorrect?

A: Well, science can get politicized when the facts are uncertain. This has allowed people, in some cases unscrupulous people, to exploit the prestige of science. At first people don't necessarily realize that. They know that water is made of oxygen and hydrogen -- how do you politicize that? But then you come to something like global warming, when you are talking about the average temperature on the surface of the Earth and comparing it with the temperature hundreds of years ago, when they didn't have thermometers, and projecting it 100 years into the future, and the uncertainties are just huge. So it becomes possible for unprincipled people to exploit the prestige of science on some issues.

Q: Besides global warming, what other scientific truths are hidden from public view because they are politically incorrect?

A: A number of environmental issues, I would say. In fact, I quote an interesting guy called Patrick Moore in the book who was a founder of Greenpeace who kind of rethought his whole position. He reports that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a lot of people on the Left, who had been essentially advocates on behalf of socialist causes, realized it was not going to work out, so they came over to the environmental movement. Such issues as endangered species have also been politicized.

Q: The growing ozone hole, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, global warming -- most people are not skeptical of these things.

A: Actually, I don't know how much skepticism there is about AIDS, but it is undoubtedly the most politicized of all medical diseases or scientific issues that have come up in the last quarter century. I have a chapter specifically on AIDS in Africa, where the key point, which very few people know about, is that in order to diagnose AIDS in Africa you don't have to have an HIV test. They redefined AIDS at a conference in Bangui in the Central Africa Republic in November 1985 and they came up with various criteria -- weight loss, fever, and so on -- which, if you met them, you could be classified as an AIDS patient without any HIV test. They said it was too expensive to do the HIV test. As one journalist in South Africa, Rian Milan, put it to me, at that point almost anybody in an African hospital could be called an AIDS patient.

Q: Of all the scientific myths or untruths, what's the most dangerous one?

A: Well, global warming would be if the U.S. was about to act on the Kyoto accords and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels. But that is not going to happen. There's no chance. Even if Hillary Clinton was president, she wouldn't do it. The idea that nuclear radiation is dangerous is another myth that is itself dangerous, because it resulted in the more or less cessation or interruption of the development of nuclear power in this country, which needs to be brought back. The DDT ban has been a big problem in Africa because the expansion of malaria means that about 1 million African children a year are dying who probably would not be dying if the DDT use had continued in the Third Word, as it had in the Western world. I'm surprised that the Congressional Black Caucus doesn't get on this.

Q: Who or what is responsible for spreading or perpetuating these myths, these untruths of science?

A: Overwhelmingly, it's people who are on the Left, I think. The science faculties at most major universities are pretty much dominated by liberals, not conservatives. It's certainly true in physics and biology. The one field where it is not true is engineering, where they are approximately equally divided between Democrats and Republicans or liberals and conservatives. I like to say that the reason for that is that buildings actually have to stand up.

Q: So where is the skeptical media?

A: Just about nonexistent. It's really shocking. I do complain about that in my book. Woodward and Bernstein told us 30 years ago in Watergate, "Don't accept government (press) handouts." That's good advice, but the media absolutely do not pay any attention to it on scientific issues -- or very little attention. This is why the Woodward/Bernstein philosophy is correct. We need to have journalists trying to shoot down almost anything the government says, because they have the power of coercion, the power of taxing us and so on, to pursue what they are doing. And they need to be resisted.

Tom Bethell's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science is available from the FrontPage Magazine Bookstore for only $19.95.

Bill Steigerwald is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's associate editor. Call him at (412) 320-7983. E-mail him at:

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

R. Andrew Newman: Narnia is Free!

January 03, 2006, 8:20 a.m.
Stay Out of Our Wardrobe!
The libertarian Narnia state.

Narnia could share New Hampshire's motto: Live Free or Die. C. S. Lewis's land is a libertarian haven of talking animals and magical creatures. Sure, there are kings and queens, but Narnia's royals govern more in line with Jefferson than many a democratic state this side of the wardrobe.

The story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is one of freedom. The White Witch's icy tyranny is overthrown — Christmas, freedom, and spring return to the land — and all this is faithfully translated to the screen in Disney and Walden Media's beautifully done movie adaptation. The struggle mirrors the war in the world of men, implicitly in the book and explicitly in the movie. The movie opens with the Nazi bombardment of London. Two wars in two worlds: both worth the sacrifice and fight.

I realize neither the book nor the movie is a policy manual or a political-philosophy tract gussied up with fauns, centaurs, and dwarves. And yet Narnia clearly is a land where freedom is valued and where the good state knows its limits.

Like the book, the movie ends with the daughters of Eve and sons of Adam, now grown into young adulthood, finding their way back to England. In the book, however, we also get a brief taste of how they governed from their thrones at Cair Paravel. First things first: dealing with the holdouts from the White Witch's regime. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy know an iron fist is necessary to quash insurgents, and "in the end that foul brood was stamped out."

Once peace has been established, High King Peter and his royal siblings begin to the administer the state: "And they made good laws and kept the peace and saved good trees from being unnecessarily cut down, and liberated young dwarfs and young satyrs from being sent to school, and generally stopped busybodies and interferers and encouraged ordinary people who wanted to live and let live."
Amen to that. Where do I go to start the Draft Peter Pevensie for President Committee? And with three siblings, there's good potential for a dynasty.

Their saving "good trees from being unnecessarily cut down" may raise some eyebrows outside of Green circles. Admittedly, development isn't high on the list of priorities in Narnia. In fact, when the Calormenes invade in the final book of the series, The Last Battle, not least among their sins is chopping down trees. Lewis himself was no fan of development, but we must remember that Narnia has regular trees and spirit-filled trees. It indeed would be murder to kill the latter.

Speaking of Calormenes, they are slavers, and if there's anything Narnians hate it is slavery. In The Horse and His Boy, an enslaved talking horse and a boy about to be sold into slavery escape north for Narnia. Before they leave Calormen, they meet up with a girl disguised as a boy. Of noble blood, she's heading north for freedom to avoid a forced marriage.

I especially like the part of liberating young dwarfs and satyrs from school. Nor is this the only dig at the shortcomings of education in the series. When the children are hesitant to believe their sister Lucy's reports of a world beyond the wardrobe, the Professor mutters, "I wonder what they do teach them at these schools." There's a delightful send-up of "progressive" education as well as of regulation and government in The Silver Chair. We are introduced to Experiment House, a co-educational school, "what used to be called a 'mixed' school; some said it was not nearly so mixed as the minds of the people who ran it." An inquiry brings the strange goings on at Experiment House to light, but this isn't the end for the school's Head. "After that, the Head's friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn't much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after."

She wouldn't have much cared for Narnia, where the state is modest, making good laws, keeping the peace, stopping busybodies, protecting the land and its subjects, and allowing folks to "live and let live."

Perhaps some will think I'm making too much of this, piling political theory upon a children's story. But Lewis himself feared the modern state. In an essay that deserves to be better known, "Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State," Lewis argued that the state no longer exists to "protect our rights but to do us good or make us good — anyway, to do something to us or to make us something. Hence the new name 'leaders' for those who were once 'rulers.' We are less their subjects than their wards, pupils, or domestic animals. There is nothing left of which we can say to them, 'Mind your own business.' Our whole lives are their business."

At least in Narnia, the state has its business and the subjects retain theirs.

— R. Andrew Newman is a freelance writer in Nebraska.

Ted Hayes: Prejudice

Black Republicans should be able to live without fear.

The Wall Street Journal
Monday, January 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

American blacks who are affiliated with the Republican Party are vigorously vilified by Democrats, especially black Democrats. Uncle Tom, sell-out, Oreo--the list of slurs is long.

But it is not only insults. I am the founder and director of a unique, progressive homeless facility in downtown Los Angeles, known as the Dome Village. Yet the 35 men, women and children and their pets who call the Dome Village home are being "evicted" from privately owned property after 12 1/2 years--apparently on account of my political beliefs and activities. You see, though I am a leading homeless activist, I am also a conservative Republican and a strong supporter of President Bush.

Here's how the situation played out. Recently, I was invited to address a local Republican Women's Club; my landlord read an article in the local paper reporting on the event. Soon after, I received a notice raising the Dome Village rent from $2,500 a month to $18,330. Shocked, I inquired as to the seriousness of the change, and the property owner blurted out that the cause of our "eviction" was "because you are Republican." He said that as a Democrat, he was tired of helping me and the Dome Village. In other words, let the homeless be damned.

And people think the Democrats are the party of compassion and tolerance.

Private property should be protected, of course, and I have no intention of causing any trouble for this property owner as we part ways. Whatever he does with his valuable land--it is only a few blocks from the Staples Center--is no concern of mine, and I will not go to court.

Still, I cannot help but be saddened by the whole business. When I founded the Dome Village 12 years ago, we had an understanding that he could ask for his property back at any time for any reason, and I would say "absolutely" without hesitation. Still, his reason was prejudice against Republicans.


We see this across the country. Michael Steele, the lieutenant governor of Maryland and a Republican candidate for the Senate, has been crudely disparaged on racial grounds. A prominent leftist Web site, for instance, depicted him as "Sambo," among other aspersions. When Condoleezza Rice was nominated as secretary of state, she faced similar treatment: editorial cartoons depicting her as a racial caricature, personalities calling her "Aunt Jemima" on liberal talk radio, and so forth. Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly, Colin Powell, Thomas Sowell and other black conservatives regularly face similar smears.

These conservatives are attacked not because of the validity or judicious consideration of their views but because those views are supposedly heterodox for American blacks. Yet it is my opinion that many black people in the U.S. are politically and philosophically conservative--and many are in fact actually closeted Republicans, fearful of persecution by friends, business associates, society clubs, schoolmates and even churches.

It is time for American blacks to have a conversation about the phenomenon of Democrats persecuting black Republicans. Why is this happening? What is it that the Democrats don't want black folks to understand about Republicans? What is it that the Democrats don't want black folks to know about Democrats? And how is it that we have come to this point--after having endured so much--where we have ourselves curtailed the freedom of political expression through the threat of retaliatory consequences?

Mr. Hayes is a homeless activist in Los Angeles.