Saturday, August 21, 2004

Mike Adams: Silencers Without Guns

Mike August 20, 2004

The other day I woke up in a great mood. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was thinking about how I could make the world a better, more diverse place.
When I got to the office, I thought about the dozens of lawyers who had just signed up for my new pro bono legal network, designed to sue universities for enforcing unconstitutional speech codes. I thought about calling it the “be more tolerant of dissent or we’ll sue your butt off” network. A little self-censorship convinced me to change the “butt” to “tail.”

But then it hit me that, like a hypocrite, I haven’t done any pro bono work lately. It was then that I decided to write the following letter to ten women’s resource centers around the nation to offer my expertise on a topic often neglected in the postmodern academy:

Dear Women’s Center:
My name is Mike Adams. I am an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at UNC Wilmington, and a regular columnist for the Heritage Foundation’s I am also a member of the NRA and a weekly commentator at I am writing to offer my expertise, free of charge, to Women’s Centers around the nation that are interested in combating violence against women.
… It is my opinion that the response to the problem of violence against…female students has lacked a diversity of viewpoint. Specifically, there has been a lack of discussion about the possible benefits of gun ownership among women, particularly those who have been harassed, stalked, or otherwise victimized in the past.
As such, I would love the opportunity to visit your campus to talk about the following:
*The benefits and responsibilities of gun ownership in general.*The desirability of concealed carry permits for women.*The basic rules governing the use of deadly force.
Since I am traveling extensively in the coming year, I believe that I will be able to coordinate a visit to your university sometime in the coming months. Again, the lecture would be provided at no cost to the university.
Please contact me immediately, if you think that you would be interested.
Below, I have summarized the responses of the ten women’s centers I contacted:
Bucknell University. No response. I suppose that they were unable to fit me in between the “safer sex” forum, the “sex discussed here” forum, and the “love your body” forum. The “love your body” forum helps to reduce STDs and pregnancies by encouraging women to gain weight and be happy with their own bodies, regardless of what a man thinks. “Love your body” day is often endorsed by university wellness centers, not to mention Pee Wee Herman.

Duke University. No response. Duke was apparently unable to fit me in between the Women’s Revolutionary Knitting Forum on September 1st, the Women’s Revolutionary Knitting Forum on September 15th, the Women’s Revolutionary Knitting Forum on September 29th, the Women’s Revolutionary Knitting Forum on October 13th, the Women’s Revolutionary Knitting Forum on October 27th, the Women’s Revolutionary Knitting Forum on November 10th, and the Women’s Revolutionary Knitting Forum on December 8th.. The Duke Women’s Center is committed to weaving the fabric of diversity for generations to come.

Emory University. No response. Between the “Creation and ritual in African ceramics” lecture, the “Biography of a pot” lecture, and the “Women in clay” lecture, Emory was truly busy molding the lives of their young students. But I really started to ferment when I learned that they found time for an “African beer tasting” event.
Georgia Tech. No response. This was despite their claimed emphasis in women’s “safety concerns.”

Princeton University. No response. They did, however, schedule an “athletics and homophobia” lecture and a “women of color” luncheon. Rumor has it the Princeton Women’s Center is changing its name to the Black Lesbian Pole Vaulting Center.

University of Alabama. No response. The university had already sponsored the following eleven events for the semester: faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, faces in the mirror, and faces in the mirror. Apparently, the women needed to spend the semester in deep reflection.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. No response. Despite a claimed interest in “empower(ing) women” and “stop(ping) oppression” they seemed uninterested. Women in Massachusetts usually defend themselves by yelling “shove it” instead of wielding a handgun.

Georgetown University. No response. Women in Georgetown feel empowered already. Hillary Clinton has a house near their campus.

Sarah Lawrence College. No response. This women’s center has hosted scores of exciting lectures over the years including the following: "The Murder of a Pakistani Muslim Immigrant Woman in Chicago,” “Secular Women of the Jewish Left and the Rise of Jewish Feminism,” “The Relationship Between Lesbians and Psychotherapy,” “Bon Bons, Lemon Drops, and Oh! Henry Bars: Candy, Consumer Culture, and the Construction of Gender,” “A Cultural History of Gender, Class, and the American Cigarette” (talk about penis envy), “New York African-American Lesbians and Religious Autonomy,” “The Hidden Lesbians in the Diaries of Anne Lister,” and “Women Hobos of the Depression.” That last one sounds like a real bummer.

North Carolina State University. Finally I got a response, indicating that N.C. state is “unable to offer a program on gun ownership at this time” for two reasons: 1) “the North Carolina statutes forbid guns on their college campuses” and, 2) “statistics indicate that a lot of people who attempt to protect themselves with a gun are often killed with the gun themselves.”

Of course, I never intended to argue that women should actually carry their guns to class. But I did intend to show that the benefits of gun ownership outweigh the detriments. In others words, guns thwart crimes more often than they cause accidents.
Oh well, at least I tried. After all, most of these centers will be sponsoring the Vagina Monologues later this year. That should be enough to scare most of the men away. So maybe they don’t need guns after all. Maybe I just need to see things from a woman’s perspective.

Mike S. Adams is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina - Wilmington.

Lawrence Auster: The Centrality of Jihad in Islam

Lawrence Auster August 20, 2004

All thoughts of pacifying Islam by assimilating it into the global democratic system must fall down before a simple, terrible fact: Jihad—holy war against all non-Muslims—does not represent a mere excess or defect of Islam, but its timeless core. According to Muslim scholar Bassam Tibi (quoted recently at FrontPage Magazine), "Muslims are religiously obliged to disseminate the Islamic faith throughout the world.... If non-Muslims submit to conversion or subjugation, this call can be pursued peacefully. If they do not, Muslims are obliged to wage war against them." World peace, according to Islamic teaching, "is reached only with the conversion or submission of all mankind to Islam."

Moreover, continues Tibi, when Muslims disseminate Islam through violent means, that is not war (harb), as that word only describes the use of force by non-Muslims. Islamic wars are acts of "opening" the world to Islam. "[T]hose who resist Islam cause wars and are responsible for them."

In other words, simply by the act of existing, the entire non-Islamic world is equated with war. That is why Muslims call it the Dar al-Harb, the Realm of War. Yet when Muslims wage jihad, they are doing it to bring about the peace of universal Islam. So whatever Muslims do, is by definition peace, and whatever infidels do, is by definition war. This explains, by the way, why "moderate" Muslims almost never admit that Muslim terrorists are terrorists. It is because jihad itself is not war, but a way of pursuing peace. By such manipulations of language and such massive double standards, Islam reveals itself as a closed system that precludes any critical thought about itself, as well as any fair and honest dealings with non-Muslims.

Unsustainable excuses for jihad-
Though acknowledging the deadly and totalitarian nature of jihad, some observers insist that the Islamic world isn't naturally or inevitably jihadist. They say the jihadist impulse is merely situational, an understandable response to external provocation. This generous view of Islam is reflected in contemporary Western reference works that define jihad as the use of military force in defense of Islam, rather than, as is the actual case, the use of military force to expand Islamic-controlled territory.

The same non-judgmental attitude is seen in the notion that jihadism, after a long period of dormancy, has been reawakened in recent decades by outside threats and irritants, namely the U.S. support for Israel, the U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf states, and American cultural imperialism. In reality, intrusion by a Western power into a Muslim land has never been needed to set off a jihad. Jihadists in the 19th and early 20th centuries repeatedly engaged in horrendous violence, and not just against colonial occupiers.

In the 1860s a Muslim cleric in the Punjab launched murderous jihad against Sikhs and then against all non-Muslim groups. In the 1820s and '30s the Padri Islamists in West Sumatra waged war against less pure Muslims whom they accused of paganism. In South India in 1921, jihadists carried out massacres, the forcible conversion of Hindus and the desecration of Hindu temples. And today, of course, Islamists are attacking non-Muslims along a vast arc extending from Nigeria to Indonesia. Far from having fallen into permanent remission, jihad remains an ever present threat—it is the default mode of Muslims whenever they find themselves in close and sustained proximity with non-Muslims.

It is clear that a state of powerlessness lasting centuries has failed to remove the jihadist imperative from the souls of Muslims. As the Muslim scholar C. Snouck Hurgronje wrote in 1916, "Even if they admit the improbability [of world conquest] at present, they are comforted and encouraged by the recollection of the lengthy period of humiliation that the Prophet himself had to suffer before Allah bestowed victory upon his arms."
The reference is to the first stage of Muhammed's career, when he was living in Mecca among non-Muslims who were hostile to his message. Since Muhammed underwent a long period of relative weakness, Muslims, treating the Prophet's life as a model for their own, can with equanimity accept the same. They can hang out for ages, confident that sooner or later will come the hejira, the paradigmatic escape to Medina, whence they will be empowered to start waging jihad in earnest.

To summarize our discussion so far: (1) The command to wage jihad is laid on all Muslims. (2) Jihad must be carried out until the whole world has been brought under the power of the Islamic state. (3) Even when Muslims lack the present ability to wage jihad, the hope of jihad remains alive in their hearts, enabling them to wait for generations for a new chance to spread the faith. And finally, (4) jihad is not a recent revival of the late 20th century but has periodically erupted during long ages of apparent Muslim quiescence.

Despite these considerations, many Americans will find it hard to believe that the Islamic community is ineluctably bound to wage holy war against us. They don't want to think that Islam is so fearsome and implacable that no civilized relationship—let alone a relationship of liberal inclusion and multicultural equality—is possible with it. They figure that if a religion commands a certain behavior, such as jihad, that doesn't necessarily mean that most members of that religion will actually practice that behavior.
So, in much the same way that the Clinton administration saw terrorist attacks as individual crimes rather than as acts of war, many Americans will prefer to picture jihad as a matter of occasional violent outbreaks here and there, rather than as part of a sustained war against all non-Muslim societies. They argue further that if we end our supposed provocation of Muslims (by withdrawing all our forces from Iraq, say, or ending our friendship with Israel) the current jihadist fever will die down.

One of the problems with this hopeful view is that jihad is not just some secondary doctrine of faith, which Muslims can take or leave, which they can affirm formally but ignore in practice. It is the very core of the Muslim identity, embraced not only by Muslim religious leaders, but by every Islamic government in the world.

At a meeting in Cairo in 1990, representatives of all 54 Muslim countries signed the Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, a Muslim-style answer to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As Andrew Bostom describes it:
the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam included the triumphal announcement that the Shari'a has primacy over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and included the specific proclamation that God has made the umma (Islamic community) the best nation, whose role is to "guide" humanity. This statement captures the indelible influence of the uniquely Islamic institutions of jihad and dhimmitude on the Shari'a, rendering sacred and permanent the notion of inequality between the community of Allah, and the infidels.

Can the document be as bad as Bostom claims? Let's go to the text (all emphases in the following quotes have been added).
The Cairo Declaration begins by asserting the moral and civilizational supremacy of Islam: "The Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference ... [r]eaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization ... and the role that this Ummah should play to guide ... humanity ..."

The Cairo Declaration, in pursuing its aim of finessing the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, states principles that are common to all civilization, but then qualifies each of those principles in terms of the Shari'ah, the strict law that governs Islamic societies. Thus it affirms "[man's] freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari'ah." It says the laws of Islam are "binding divine commandments ... and that no one as a matter of principle has the right to suspend them in whole or in part or violate or ignore [them] ..." Further, the Declaration says that "it is prohibited to take away life except for a Shari'ah prescribed reason." It says Shari'ah must rule supreme in matters of criminal law as well: "There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Shari'ah."

Freedom of speech is allowed, but—once again—there's a catch: "Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari'ah." The only values that can be spoken or advocated are those of Islam: "Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari'ah." Nothing critical can be said about Islam: "Information is a vital necessity to Society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm Society or weaken its faith."

Political rights are also subject to Shari'ah: "Everyone shall have the right to participate directly or indirectly in the administration of his country's public affairs. He shall also have the right to assume public office in accordance with the provisions of Shari'ah." And in its final article, the Declaration re-affirms the self-enclosed, impermeable-to-criticism nature of the Islamic mind: "The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration."

Playing "Muhammed's Advocate" for a moment, I would like to suggest that the Declaration is perhaps not as bad as it appears. First, can we reasonably object to the Islamic nations' believing that their own laws and standards are superior to those of the UN? As a traditionalist conservative who believes in preserving our historic civilization against the UN and other globalizing forces, I can hardly be alarmed when other peoples seek to preserve their civilizational traditions against the UN.

Second, is the Declaration's insistence that Shari'ah must guide all laws and social practices really so egregious? I myself have written at FrontPage that if liberal individual rights are not to destroy our society, they must operate within the constraints of a moral and cultural order that is not itself liberal.

And third, why should be be offended at the Muslims' belief that it's their mission to guide humanity? Any civilization worth its salt believes it has a leadership role to play in the world. Think of ancient Israel, or ancient Athens, or ancient Rome. Think of the British empire. Think of France, with its "Mission to Civilize." Think of our own United States of America. How can we gainsay the Muslims' touting themselves as a guide to mankind, when our own president constantly makes the same claim for us?

Unfortunately, however, these more benign interpretations of the Cairo Declaration are not sustainable. When we remember the actual content of the Shari'ah,—that it's nothing less than a totalitarian system of oppression that is utterly alien to Western ways, the rule of law, cultural and technical creativity, and the most basic human freedoms—then the Islamic nations' insistence on the primacy of Shari'ah in all matters, combined with their stated mission to guide humanity (guide humanity toward what? toward submission to Shari'ah!), does indeed add up to an endorsement of jihad, even though the word jihad doesn't appear in the document. As Andrew Bostom has pointed out, the flowery language of the Declaration confuses many who do not understand what "Shari'ah" and "Islamic justice" really mean.

The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights is conclusive evidence of the central and defining role of jihad in Islam. In this document all the Islamic countries, acting as a body, have formally endorsed the worldwide dominance of Shari'ah, which in turn implies the necessity of waging jihad to bring that dominance into existence. Thus a shared commitment to jihad constitutes the substance—the very identity—of the Islamic Ummah.
Of course, not all Muslim individuals and societies actively support jihad, and, to their credit, many Muslims have opposed the more extreme crimes committed in the name of jihad. But when we recall the observation of various Muslim and Western scholars that at least 50 percent of all Muslims worldwide sympathize with the jihadist message, we realize once again that jihadism is the activist core of Islam. Which means that we cannot expect any organized force to arise within the Islamic world against jihad. Just as Christians who organized against the belief in Jesus Christ would have ceased to be Christians, Muslims who actively opposed jihad would have ceased to be Muslims.
It is true that Turkey under its Kemalist order has (at least until recently) finessed the problem of Muslim orthodoxy by removing Islam from the state and the public square. Yet Turkey, which so many hold up as the hope of a moderate, secularizing Islam, is also a signatory of the Cairo Declaration.

What to do-
I conclude from all of the above that we cannot rely on "moderate" Muslims to oppose jihadism. If the job is to be done, we have to do it. On the domestic front (as I have outlined previously at FrontPage), this means ceasing all mass immigration of Muslims, deporting all Muslim illegal aliens, deporting all Muslims associated with Islamic radicalism, and renouncing the leftist ideology of multiculturalism, which has led Muslims and other non-European immigrants to feel they have the right to remake America in their own image. The totality of these steps would result in a steady net out-migration of Muslims from the United States, much of it voluntary, and thus a steady lessening of their power here, instead of the steady increase of their power that we are now enduring.

But what to do about the forces of jihad emanating from the Muslim lands themselves? I have grave doubts about President Bush's "forward strategy for democracy." As our present horrendous situation in Iraq illustrates, it is most unlikely that we have the ability to engraft Western-style or any style of stable democracy onto Muslim countries. And even if we did have the ability to carry out this incredibly ambitious project, it would require us (in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has already required us) to involve ourselves intimately in the Muslim world for decades and generations to come, with incalculable destabilizing effects on our own society.

As an example of the effects I'm talking about, the democratic reform of Muslim societies requires their partial or complete secularization. But if the secularization of Muslim societies becomes a guiding principle of our foreign policy, that would inevitably lead us to secularize our own society as well, which is the very last thing we need. (Of course, it's the very thing that the left most passionately seeks—which, by the way, exemplifies how universalist neoconservative policies inadvertently advance leftist goals.)
If democratization is too uncertain and too costly an endeavor, what other options do we have? We cannot simply destroy Islam (though some would surely like to do so). Nor, as Ann Coulter once half-jokingly suggested, can we convert all Muslims to Christianity (though we can dream, can't we?). What we can do and must do is put the Muslims back in a situation where they cannot threaten us.

There are two principal steps by which this can be accompished. The first step, already mentioned, is to force and encourage the return of Muslim immigrants from the West and from other non-Muslim countries to their historic homelands, thus radically reducing Muslims' ability to wage jihad against the larger world. The second step, suggested by Andrew Bacevich in February 1993, is to police the Moslem countries without trying to reshape them ideologically or getting directly involved in their internal affairs. Bacevich writes:

[T]he message to the Arab world from American officials needs to be explicit and unambiguous: Respect those red lines [e.g. no WMDs, no harboring of terrorists] and we will respect your existing political arrangements; disregard them and we are coming after you, with or without allies, with or without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.
In sum, what we should demand of Arab leaders is not ideological fealty, but simply responsible behavior. And this demand is not negotiable. We will not insist that the House of Saud declare its adherence to the principles of Jeffersonian democracy. But we will insist—as the Bush administration has yet to do—that those who rule the kingdom will ensure that Saudi Arabia cease serving as an incubator of suicidal terrorists. On that point, we will be adamant and uncompromising. And on that point, with the examples of Afghanistan and Iraq showing that we mean what we say, we can expect compliance. [Andrew J. Bacevich, “Don’t Get Greedy! For sensible, limited war aims in Iraq,” National Review, February 10, 2003.]

One way for the U.S. to carry out this policy would be establishment of a permanent military base in a convenient location in the Mideast/Persian Gulf region (though away from any major population centers), from which we could encourage the Muslim states to keep jihadists and other dangerous elements at bay. By maintaining a threat to topple any regime that allowed extremists and terrorists to get out of line, we would let the Muslim governments themselves do the dirty work of suppressing the jihadis in their midst (which they would have plenty of motivation to do, given our credible threat to overthrow them if they fail to do so), instead of our having to do it ourselves, as in Iraq. This would surely be a more effective and less costly use of our national power—and of our men's lives—than our current, "try-to-build-democracy-while-half-the-country-keeps-shooting-at-us" policy in Iraq. The point is, we don't care what the Muslims do in their countries, just as long as they don't do anything that endangers us.

Moreover, this containment of the Muslim peoples can be accomplished without violating their dignity and essence as Muslims. If we sought literally to suppress and destroy Islam, we could be justly accused of practicing cultural genocide. But if we simply contain the Muslims in their historic lands where they can have no power over us, that would not be harming them, even under the terms of their own religion. As I have mentioned here as well as in a previous article, one of the paradigms of Islamic conduct is Muhammed's earlier life in Mecca, where his message was rejected and he was helpless. When Muslims because of adverse external conditions are unable to wage jihad, they calmly accept the situation because it fits the pattern of Muhammed's own life; indeed, their laws explicitly accommodate them to that exigency. It is no shame for a Muslim to accept defeat, because he views it as temporary, and so he waits patiently for future jihadist opportunities to arise. The wait can be very long—centuries, in fact. And that should be just fine with us.

Thus Islam itself has provided us with a satisfactory solution to the Islamic threat, which is to restore the Muslims to the relatively powerless condition of Muhammed prior to the hejira.

Lawrence Auster is the author of Erasing America: The Politics of the Borderless Nation. He offers his traditionalist conservative perspective at View from the Right.

William Kristol: Kerry's Band of Brothers

From the August 30, 2004 issue of The Weekly Standard

More than any presidential candidate since George McGovern, John Kerry is a creature of the anti-Vietnam war movement. 08/30/2004, Volume 009, Issue 47

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother." Henry V
"And in this journey, I am accompanied by an extraordinary band of brothers. . . . Our band of brothers doesn't march because of who we are as veterans, but because of what we learned as soldiers." John Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, July 29, 2004.

JOHN KERRY is entitled to appropriate a phrase from Shakespeare. He is entitled to ask us to place weight on the testimony of the band of brothers with whom he served in Vietnam. But he has a problem. A substantial number of Kerry's band of brothers--those who served in close quarters with him in Coastal Division 11 and Coastal Division 14 from late November 1968 to March 1969--oppose his candidacy for the presidency. What they "learned as soldiers" has led them to distrust--in many cases, deeply to distrust--John Kerry.

This is not a trivial matter. It is as if Henry the Fifth, three decades later, in a (needless to say, anachronistically) democratic England, cited his experiences at Agincourt as a large part of his claim to lead. And then Exeter, Westmoreland and Bedford showed up to challenge his bona fides. The Agincourt Vets for Truth might, for example, have accused Henry of ordering a war crime when he told Exeter to have "every soldier kill his prisoners! Give the words through." They might have cited the contemporaneous reaction of Fluellen: "Kill the poys and the luggage? 'Tis expressly against the law or arms." And like Shakespeare's readers to this day, voters would have had to weigh Fluellen's charge against Henry's possible defense of himself.

No serious person thinks John Kerry was in any way a war criminal. Many believe that his service in Vietnam remains the most admirable chapter in his life. But upon returning from Vietnam, Kerry did say that he and his fellow soldiers had routinely committed war crimes. And it is this that chiefly explains his fellow veterans' disdain for Kerry. Their contempt does not rest primarily on what Kerry did or did not do in 1968 or 1969.
On April 22, 1971, John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He claimed to speak not simply for himself. He claimed to speak for "a very much larger group of veterans in this country"--for his extended band of brothers, as it were. And he proceeded to describe in some detail the "crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command," crimes that "this country, in a sense, made them do"--this country, the United States, that had "los[t] her sense of morality."

John Kerry has never retracted the charge of war crimes. It is fair to hold him accountable for his testimony--but it is also up to each American to decide how much weight to give this, or any other, three-decade-old event. What was said or done during the Vietnam era may end up being relatively unimportant in determining how people vote in 2004. But the Vietnam war, and the antiwar movement, is relevant to understanding a possible Kerry presidency at least in this sense: It is clear from Kerry's subsequent career that his real band of brothers--his political band of brothers, his ideological band of brothers--are the antiwar activists with whom he marched in 1971.

John Kerry was hostile, to say the least, to the exercise of American power in 1971. He remained so for the next three decades. John Kerry was critical--to say the least--of America's claims to moral leadership as a nation in 1971. He has remained so ever since. More than any presidential candidate since George McGovern, John Kerry is a creature of the anti-Vietnam war movement. His entire public career makes clear that he was and is--and I use this term descriptively, not pejoratively--a McGovernite. The difference is that George McGovern acknowledged this. John Kerry doesn't.

Another difference is that McGovern had the decency not to tout his war medals. Nor did McGovern claim to be "reporting to duty" when he made his case for the presidency. By indulging in that gesture, Kerry turned a spotlight on his Vietnam-era actions and invited scrutiny he may come to regret. Kerry's attempt now to suppress this debate will not work. In effect, and without intending it, Kerry invited his fellow veterans to "bring it on." So they have.

--William Kristol
© Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Franklin Foer: Iranian Olympian Refuses To Compete Against Israeli

And Nobody Cries Foul: An Olympic competitor boycotts Israel, with impunity.

The Wall Street Journal
Friday, August 20, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

The Olympic Games are, of course, more than just games. As Bob Costas and the event's organizers constantly remind the world, they are a festival of humanity, a great coming together, the one moment when the planet gathers in a friendly spirit of healthy competition. Dogging your viewing of pummel-horse routines and synchronized diving, there is ample talk of the "Olympic movement," a phrase intended to highlight these aspirations.

Last week, however, as the Athens Games got under way, an Iranian judo champion exposed the hollowness of this rhetoric. Rather than compete against an Israeli, Arash Miresmaeili quit the Olympics entirely. As the jukoda told the Iranian government's official news service: "I refuse to fight my Israeli opponent to sympathize with the suffering of the people of Palestine, and I do not feel upset at all." His one-man boycott earned him encomiums from President Mohammad Khatami. According to reports, the Iranians planned on rewarding Mr. Miresmaeili with $115,000, the purse handed out to gold medalists.

Under Olympic protocol, such ad hoc political boycotts are forbidden. (The prohibitions placed on South Africa's apartheid-era teams, by contrast, were official and the product of international consensus.) They fly in the face of everything the Olympic movement proclaims about sportsmanship and fellowship. Indeed, if the Iranians had owned up to their intentions and the Olympics officials had felt inclined to follow their own rules, the country would have been subject to stiff sanctions.

But facing the prospects of punishment, Mr. Miresmaeili turned coward. Just before his match against the Israeli, he seems to have binged on food, stuffing himself to the point that he no longer fit his weight class, earning an automatic disqualification. Rather than taking Mr. Miresmaeili to task for his stated political stunt, Olympics officials have accepted his highly contrived alibi. The Iranians will apparently pay no price for their transgression.

Unfortunately, this is a typical tale. Israel continually suffers sporting boycotts, and officials, Olympic and otherwise, continually turn a blind eye toward this injection of politics into sport.

Ever since Israel's founding, some Muslim nations have refused to compete against the Jewish state. In 1962, when Indonesia hosted the Asian Games, it chose to officially cancel the event rather than permit Israeli participation. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the boycott intensified and has come to permeate almost every venue. Earlier this year, for instance, Israeli fencers were initially not allowed to attend that sport's world cup in Jordan. Organizers feared that the mere presence of Israelis would cause the entire Muslim world to drop out. (Jordan ultimately caved in to international pressure and invited Israelis.) Even the mentally impaired have suffered this exclusion. At last year's Special Olympics in Ireland, both Saudi Arabia and Algeria refused to play Israel in soccer and table tennis.

Not surprisingly, Saudi Arabia has been one of the leading proponents of the boycott. In 2002, Prince Sultan signed a letter endorsing an Arab Football Federation proposal to ban Israeli competition in all international soccer matches. And when the Saudi Nabeel Al-Magahwi refused to play an Israeli at the 2003 world table-tennis championship in Paris, he became a cause célèbre. "In addition to the great support I received from government officials, residents and expatriates, I have received a special certificate from the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat that I'm very proud of," Mr. Al-Magahwi told a news conference.

Even as the Bush administration has applauded Libya's baby steps toward reform, the Gadhafi family has been another boycott stalwart. Earlier this summer, it refused to let Israeli chess players attend the world championship in Tripoli. (Chess's governing body is affiliated with the International Olympic Committee.) Because the colonel's sons are sports fanatics, the country has aggressively lobbied to host other major events. But it dropped its bid to bring the 2010 soccer World Cup to Libya rather than provide the International Soccer Federation with assurances that Israeli players and fans would be granted visas.

This boycott has created a garbled sporting geography. In soccer, for instance, Israel doesn't compete against other Asian teams for a World Cup berth. International soccer officials have placed Israel in the European federation. (For a time, Israel was forced to compete even further afield, in the Oceania division against Australia and New Zealand.) Unfortunately, this means that Israel must beat the likes of Italy and France to make its way to the World Cup--a far fiercer set of opponents than it would face in Asia. Despite having some great players and solid teams, Israel hasn't qualified for the quadrennial tournament since 1970.

But there are good reasons for Israel to play against its Mideast neighbors. On the one hand, the high-toned Olympic rhetoric has truth to it. Sport can bring nations closer. The soccer player Haim Revivo, one of the best Israeli athletes of his generation, has starred for the clubs Galatasaray and Fenerbahce in Turkey. He has become nearly as beloved a figure in that Muslim nation as the Jewish one. That's not to mention the Arabs who play for Israeli clubs like Maccabi Haifa and even represent Israel in international competitions.

On the other hand, sports can provide a relatively harmless vehicle for letting off political steam. During the shah's reign, Iran was the one Muslim nation that bucked the boycott. For a time, the masses could go into the stadium and root hard against Israeli teams and athletes. Naturally, nasty slurs echoed through the crowds. But the events may have also helped buy the government leeway to pursue a friendlier policy toward Israel. According to one strand of folklore, the Israelis aided their friend the shah by intentionally losing soccer matches against his teams.

Of course, if international sports officials wanted to, they could easily stamp out the anti-Israel boycott. As punishment, athletes could suffer long bans from competition. In the context of the Olympic movement's gentle treatment of genuine dictatorships, this inaction becomes even more obscene.

International sports bureaucrats, it should be remembered, turned a blind eye to Uday Hussein's treatment of his athletes. During his tenure as head of Iraq's soccer federation, Saddam's son subjected losing players to the worst torture. His goons would drag players across pavement until their bare feet turned raw. Then the players were forced to jump in raw sewage. Even though these human-rights abuses were amply documented, Olympic and soccer officials never really voiced a substantial complaint against them.

Olympic officials, however, have sent Israel a clear message. Two years ago, representatives from various Olympic federations gathered in Kuala Lumpur to prepare for Athens. There were 199 flags, including the Palestinian standard, hanging in the hotel ballroom. Sadly, one was missing.

Mr. Foer, a senior editor at the New Republic and a contributing editor at New York, is the author of "How Soccer Explains the World."

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Paul J. Contino: Democrats Can 'Do Better" on Abortion

Commentary > Opinion from the August 19, 2004 edition
The Christian Science Monitor

LOS ANGELES – "We can do better. And help is on the way." When I heard that refrain in Sen. John F. Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, it reminded me of why I am a Democrat at heart. In my lifetime, the Democratic Party has stood consistently on the side of the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.

But I have not cast my vote for a Democratic presidential candidate in 12 years because the Democrats have refused to extend their protection to the weakest and most vulnerable - unborn children.
Given the terrible number of abortions that are allowed each year in our country - "1.31 million pregnancies were terminated by abortion in the US" in 2000, the most recent statistics available, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute - we surely can do better.
And Senator Kerry should make just such a proposition part of his campaign. I am not suggesting that he commit himself to overturning Roe v. Wade - although I think it should be overturned. But I am suggesting that he challenge those who are considering abortion to "do better," and that he challenge the United States as a nation to "do better" by them.

Which brings me to Kerry's other rhetorical flourish: "Help is on the way." I am confident that the Democrats could create a policy that the Republican Party, for all of its pro-life rhetoric, has to my knowledge never offered. Kerry could offer a guarantee that any woman with an unwanted pregnancy would be assisted by the federal government, perhaps in league with faith-based initiatives, and that she would be granted the kind of support that would help her consider her options. That means financial aid, adoption counseling and, most important, should she decide to raise her child, continuing material support after the birth.

Kerry, who as a Catholic professes a personal antipathy toward abortion, must understand that this is the right thing to do. After all, the immediate effect of his moral leadership in this matter would save lives, just as surely as young Lieutenant Kerry saved Lt. James Rassman's life on that uncertain day on the Bay Hap River.

But Kerry should also understand that leadership on this issue could go a long way toward sealing a Democratic victory in November. Providing options and support systems that could help limit the number of abortions would appeal to the majority who believe that abortion should be avoided whenever possible. It could galvanize many undecided antiabortion voters who, like me, long to return to the Democratic Party. And in a time of discouraging polarization, such a stand could create common ground that most of us can agree upon: Abortions are a catastrophe in our culture, not just another lifestyle choice.

Mary Jo Bane, a public policy professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and assistant secretary for children and families in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration, writes in a recent essay, "We are all losing the opportunity to make important progress in limiting abortions." Kerry could, if he so chooses, live up to his rhetoric and lead our country in doing better.

• Paul J. Contino is a professor in the humanities and teacher education division at Pepperdine University. ©Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Michelle Malkin: The Left's War on the FBI

The New York Times, American Civil Liberties Union, anti-Bush protesters, and Muslim activists are all apoplectic over the FBI's efforts to prevent violence and terrorism. Agents are — gasp — knocking on doors and asking questions. Based on these basic intelligence-gathering actions, the civil liberties alarmists are convinced that the constitutional sky is falling.

On Monday, the Times published a front-page story that painted FBI agents as jack-booted thugs bent on scaring the pants off of innocent, do-gooder college kids. A Tuesday Times editorial bemoaned how "[s]ix investigators recently descended on Sarah Bardwell, a 21-year-old intern with a Denver antiwar group, who quite reasonably took away the message that the government was watching her closely." The editorialists concluded: "The knock on the door from government investigators asking about political activities is the stuff of totalitarian regimes."

Oh, give me a break. Getting shocked with cattle prods for practicing one's faith is the "stuff of totalitarian regimes." Getting locked up in an iron maiden for losing a soccer match is the "stuff of totalitarian regimes." Answering a few questions about possible domestic terrorism is the stuff of responsible citizenship.

Agents are not targeting every tattooed Bush hater and handcuffing every pacifist grandma in an insidious effort to chill free speech. They are simply trying to be what every hindsight hypocrite has asked them to be: proactive and preemptive.

The fact is that many anti-war groups have been tied to extremist guerrilla tactics and pro-violence movements. The Ruckus Society caused massive rioting and destruction in Seattle in 1999. In a militant call to arms published last spring across left-wing Internet sites, infamous environmental thug Craig Rosebraugh called on his antiwar colleagues to take "direct actions" against American military establishments, urban centers, corporations, government buildings and media outlets. In Oakland, "peaceful" protesters exercised their "free speech" by attempting to shut down a port involved in shipping military supplies to soldiers during wartime. The "Black Bloc" organization is instructing protestors to trick bomb-sniffing dogs on New Jersey Transit lines and New York City subways in an effort to create "maximum disruption" and drain police resources."

Is the FBI — which must grapple with the prospect of another international terrorist attack on American soil, as well as havoc from domestic terrorists — supposed to turn a blind eye to these past actions and future plans? By the protesters' own admission, federal investigators are simply asking specific questions about whether demonstrators headed to the Republican National Convention in New York City are planning violence or other disruptions and whether they have any knowledge of such plots.

Some of those who have been questioned by the FBI say they were "harassed" and scared by armed agents who visited their homes. Boo hoo. What do they want the agents to do? Would showing up in clown suits with squirt guns in their holsters make them feel less frightened?

These are serious men and women doing serious jobs in serious times. Grow up.

Similar complaints about the FBI meanies are coming from Muslim leaders and ACLU lawyers who are incensed that agents from the 2004 FBI Threat Task Force are asking Muslims questions about possible terrorist plots. "These large dragnet interviews that really focus on people because of their ethnicity or religion are not productive investigative techniques," complained Parastou Hassouri, an immigrant rights specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

Where, pray tell, does Hassouri suggest that the FBI go to gather information about Muslim extremists? Madonna's Kabbalah prayer meetings? Bob Jones University? The Christian Science reading room at the mall?

These same hysterical groups who lambaste the FBI for its "aggressive" behavior now will be the first to roast the bureau for intelligence-gathering laxity if something catastrophic happens before the November elections. You just can't win with these whiners.

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NRO: Sudan: Avoiding Genocide

August 18, 2004, 8:24 a.m.

Avoiding Genocide: The right to bear arms could have saved Sudan.

By Dave Kopel, Paul Gallant, & Joanne Eisen
National Review Online

[T]he sovereign territorial state claims, as an integral part of its sovereignty, the right to commit genocide, or engage in genocidal massacres, against peoples under its rule, and...the United Nations, for all practical purposes, defends this right. To be sure, no state explicitly claims the right to commit genocide — this would not be morally acceptable even in international circles — but the right is exercised under other more acceptable rubrics.... — Leo Kuper, Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth CenturyOn July 22, 2004, both houses of Congress upped the ante in Darfur, Sudan, by calling the situation there genocide instead of "ethnic cleansing." That legal change in terminology was inspired by the 1948 U.N. Convention on Genocide, in which all the signatories promise to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

The definition of "genocide" was very tightly written. According to Matthew Lippman ("A Road Map to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide," Journal of Genocide Research, 2002), "measures directed towards forcing members of a group to abandon their homes in order to escape ill-treatment" — what we now know as ethnic cleansing — is not considered genocide according to the U.N. definition.

For months, the world has bickered over what to call the situation in Darfur. According to Article 8 of the U.N. Convention: "Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide..." The U.S., which signed and ratified the Genocide Convention, is a "Contracting Party," and has forced the world to accept the fact that another genocide is taking place.
If the U.N. follows its own laws, it must now intervene on the side of the victims. But the world's governments cannot agree on an effective remedy. At the heart of the U.N.'s failure is a grave misunderstanding of national sovereignty: the notion that "sovereignty" belongs to the government, not the people. And this mistaken notion of sovereignty precludes consideration of one of most effective ways to prevent genocide: arming the victims.

TOO LATE — AGAIN As the U.N. Security Council tried to craft language every government could support, the threat of sanctions against Sudan was dropped. The final resolution that passed the Security Council on July 30, 2004, included an arms embargo. Notwithstanding the practical difficulties of imposing a successful embargo, such a policy is too late.As many as 50,000 people have been killed, and more will probably starve to death. Livestock and food have been destroyed; the dead animals have been used to poison the wells, and trees have been uprooted. Rape is used as an instrument of warfare, and, because of the Islamic culture of Darfur, it has irrevocably destroyed many families. Fifteen-year-old Aziza recalled: "Five of them raped me twice...they were armed...I am still in pain." The situation continues to deteriorate.

Even if all hostilities ceased at this very moment, if all weapons were destroyed, if all aid groups could bring all the necessary food, water, and medical supplies into the refugee camps — even if it were safe for the refugees to return home — during the months that the world diddled, the culture of Darfur has been demolished. There is no going back. Despite all the platitudes about "never again," the world did let it happen — again.

ARMED RESISTANCE Sudan is the largest country in Africa, over four times the size of Alaska. Its capital is Khartoum, and it shares its northern border and the Nile River with Egypt. Sudan became independent from the U.K. in 1956. Darfur, about the size of France, is situated in the western part and shares a border with Chad. Islamist Arabs run Sudan; Sudanese Arab nomads have been persecuting the black Muslims of Darfur, who are mostly farmers. Because of the scarcity of natural resources, and desertification in the area caused by two decades of drought and poor land management, the Arab tribesmen have, in the last few years, invaded the farming communities. Two self-defense forces arose among the black population: the SLA (Sudan Liberation Army) and the JEM (Justice and Equality Movement). Although it is very difficult for ordinary citizens to obtain firearms legally, the black self-defense groups were able to procure black-market arms, and therefore were able to protect the farming communities. In mid-2003, the Sudanese government began to arm the Arab Janjaweed militias. Although the government claims to deplore the Arabs' war on the blacks, the government has assisted the Arabs by bombing black villages and by allowing the Janjaweed to attack the blacks at will. Approximately 100,000 refugees have been forced into Chad, and it is estimated that about one million people have been displaced internally.

The destruction of black society in Darfur has made it difficult for the populace to protect and provision the self-defense groups. So the refugee camps are vulnerable and unarmed, and cannot fill basic human needs, including food and water. And the camps are guarded by the Arab Janjaweed, the very people who caused the refugee crisis in the first place.The pattern of arming Khartoum's allies began decades ago when, during the civil war against blacks in southern Sudan, the Khartoum government gave arms to the Arab militias and attempted to disarm the Christians and Animists. According to Douglas H. Johnson, the central government waged war through surrogates, so as to maintain plausible deniability. The policy continues today in Darfur.

INTERNATIONAL IMPOTENCE The rainy season now makes roads nearly impassable, so supplies must be airlifted in. A lack of sufficient sanitation is expected to make the refugee camps breeding grounds for cholera, malaria, and dysentery. With the refugees already weakened from their ordeals, their resistance to potentially fatal diseases will be low. And while genocide includes outright murder by machete, gas, or bullet, it also includes techniques such as those used by the Turks against the Armenians, and those Pol Pot used against the Cambodians: forced migration without supplies. Genocide can be accomplished by ensuring debilitation, starvation, and disease — as it is now in Sudan. And as it denies complicity in this genocide-in-progress, the government in Khartoum continues its delaying tactics and has threatened the nations attempting to save lives.For example, the BBC News reported that Sudan's military called the U.N. resolution "a declaration of war." The BBC also observed a placard at a public demonstration that stated, "Darfur will be a foreign graveyard."

According to the July 9, 2004, New York Times, Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail warned: "The American and British voices that call for the imposition of sanctions on Sudan are those that dragged the world into the Iraq problem.... I hope that they will not drag the world into a new problem from which it will be difficult to extricate itself and that is the problem of Darfur."

Recently, the Arab League passed a resolution declaring its support for Khartoum, apparently under the principle that the mass murder of Muslims is not a problem when an Arab tyranny is doing the killing. Sudan's junior foreign minister, Najuid al-Khair Abdul Wahab, explained: "We regard this...[as] a violation of our country's national sovereignty."

For years, the U.N. has been attempting to promote the notion of a rapid-reaction constabulary force responsible only to itself — which would be triggered by warnings from genocide scholars, who are presently studying the early warning signs of impending genocide.But genocide scholar Donald Krumm described "the paralysis induced by sovereignty.... This is the fundamental difficulty to be overcome. Actions based on early warning generally would require interventions inside another nation-state, which the United Nations and its member states are loath to do." As late as June 30, 2004, the BBC News reported that "U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan refused to use the term genocide, which would carry a legal obligation to act."

Krumm's prediction was correct. The international threats, warnings, and admonitions have accomplished almost nothing. Furthermore, Sudan has rejected proposals for 2,000 soldiers to be supplied by the African Union. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has talked tough, but there is no force to back up his words. According to the BBC News, "Analysts say that 15-20,000 troops would be needed to secure Darfur and no one is talking about sending anything like that number."
The U.N. remains impotent against genocide.

DISARMED, THEN ABANDONED If genocide is to be averted, it is essential to understand that once a victim population has been disarmed, those victims require protectors. If the protectors are absent or refuse to act, then the killing continues — as when the French garrison abandoned 20,000 Armenians in February 1920, and when U.N. forces stood idle in Srebrenica and Rwanda. In Rwanda, U.N. personnel knew that the victim group had been previously disarmed by laws enacted in 1964 and 1979. Early in the genocide, thousands of Rwandan civilians gathered in places where U.N. troops were stationed. The Rwandans believed the U.N.'s promise that its troops would protect them. If Rwandans had known that the U.N. troops would withdraw, the Rwandans would have fled, and some might have survived. According to the Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda: "The manner in which troops left, including attempts to pretend to the refugees that they were not, in fact, leaving, was disgraceful."

The victims were slaughtered.

Sometimes genocide against disarmed victims ends when another nation invades, for the invader's own interests, as when the Allies invaded Germany, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, or when Tanzania — defending itself against incursions by Uganda's military — invaded Uganda and overthrew Idi Amin.Unlike Hitler, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin, however, the genocidal regime in Sudan has been careful not to violate any other nation's sovereignty. Accordingly, the international community is, in practice, respecting the "sovereign" power of Sudan's dictatorship to perpetrate domestic genocide.According to provision (1) of Article 25 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on December 10, 1948: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care." But in Darfur, the government has been complicit in depriving its citizens of these basic necessities.

THE FIFTH AUXILIARY RIGHT The Darfur genocide is more proof that the human rights ostensibly guaranteed by U.N. documents often disappear when the people are disarmed, and are thereby unable to prevent a tyranny from usurping their sovereignty. As the American Founders recognized, political power often does grow out of the barrel of a gun. If you are disarmed, you are at the mercy of an armed government. In Sudan, it is virtually impossible for an average citizen to lawfully acquire and possess the means for self-defense. According to gun-control statutes, a gun licensee must be over 30 years of age, must have a specified social and economic status, and must be examined physically by a doctor. Females have even more difficulty meeting these requirements because of social and occupational limitations.

When these restrictions are finally overcome, there are additional restrictions on the amount of ammunition one may possess, making it nearly impossible for a law-abiding gun owner to achieve proficiency with firearms. A handgun owner, for example, can only purchase 15 rounds of ammunition a year. The penalties for violation of Sudan's firearms laws are severe, and can include capital punishment.International gun-control groups complain that Sudan's gun laws are not strict enough — but the real problem with the laws is that they can be enforced arbitrarily. The government can refuse gun permits to the victims in Darfur and execute anyone who obtains a self-defense gun. Meanwhile, the Arab militias can obtain guns with government approval, or the government can simply ignore illegal gun possession by Arabs.The blacks in Sudan therefore face a situation somewhat like that of blacks in the 19th-century American south. There, ostensibly neutral gun-control laws were enforced vigorously against blacks, amounting to de facto prohibition. Meanwhile, the governments of the post-bellum south allowed the terrorist KKK to arm with impunity, and the Sudanese government does the same for Arab terrorist militias. The result: second-class citizenship for American blacks, and genocide for Sudanese blacks.

The solution to the worldwide violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the worldwide recognition of one more human right. As the great English jurist William Blackstone explained, core human rights would be "the dead letter of the laws" if not guarded by "auxiliary rights." So the law "has therefore established certain other auxiliary subordinate rights of the subject, which serve principally as barriers to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights, of personal security, personal liberty, and private property."

Thus, "The fifth and last auxiliary right of the that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute ...and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression."
The Darfur genocide — like the genocides in Rwanda, Srebrenica, Cambodia, and so many other nations in the last century — was made possible only by the prior destruction of that fifth auxiliary right. It is long past time for the United Nations and the rest of the international community to do more than bemoan genocide after the fact. It is time for formal international law to recognize the natural right of self-defense, and to acknowledge the universal human right of "having arms for their defense" so that, as a last resort, victims can "restrain the violence of oppression." As history has shown, as long as dictatorships exist, the only way to ensure the primary right to life is to guarantee the auxiliary right to arms.

Dave Kopel is research director, and Paul Gallant and Joanne Eisen are senior fellows, at the Independence Institute. Their most recent academic publication is "Firearms Possession by Non-State Actors: The Question of Sovereignty."

Robert Louis Wilken: The Church As Culture

Copyright (c) 2004 First Things 142 (April 2004): 31-37.

Last spring on a trip to Erfurt, the medieval university town in Germany famous for its Augustinian cloister in which Martin Luther was ordained to the priesthood, I learned that only 20 percent of its population today professes adherence to Christianity. In fact, when the topic of religion came up in a conversation with a young woman in a hotel lounge, and I asked her if she was a member of a church, she replied without hesitation: Ich bin Heide— “I am a heathen.”

It is hardly surprising to discover pagans in the heart of Western Europe where Christianity once flourished: a steep decline in the number of Christians has been underway for generations, even centuries. What surprised me was the absence of embarrassment in her use of the term “heathen.” She did not say that she no longer went to church or that she was not a believer. For her, Christianity, no doubt the religion of her grandparents if not her parents, was simply not on the horizon. I remembered that two days earlier my train had stopped at Fulda, where St. Boniface, the apostle to the Germans, is buried. Boniface had gone to Germany to convert the heathen, and in a spectacular and courageous gesture he felled the sacred oak at Geismar. The astonished onlookers soon hearkened to Boniface’s preaching and received baptism. It would seem that if Christianity is ever to flourish again in the land between the Rhine and the Elbe, a new Boniface will have to appear to fell the sacred oaks of European secularism.

Yet what made an even deeper impression on me in Europe was the debate over the preface to the new constitution of the European Union. I was living in Italy at the time and had been following the discussion in the Italian press. All the nations of the EU are historically Christian, and the very idea of Europe was the work of Christian civilization. The Carolingians, Christian kings, first brought together the peoples west and the east of the Rhine to form a political alliance, with the blessing of the bishop of Rome. The story of Europe is a spiritual drama impelled by religious convictions, not by geography, economics, or technology. Yet the framers of the EU constitution refuse even to mention the name of Christianity in its preface. While readily acknowledging the inheritance of pagan Greece and Rome, and even the Enlightenment, Europe’s political-bureaucratic elites have chosen to excise any mention of Christianity from Europe’s history. Not only have they excluded Christianity from a role in Europe’s future; they have banished it from Europe’s past. One wonders whether the new Europe, uprooted from its Christian soil, will continue to promote the spiritual values that have made Western Civilization unique.
Talking to the young woman in Erfurt and listening in on the debate about the EU constitution I found myself musing on the future of Christian culture. In my lifetime we have witnessed the collapse of Christian civilization. At first the process of disintegration was slow, a gradual and persistent attrition, but today it has moved into overdrive, and what is more troubling, it has become deliberate and intentional, not only promoted by the cultured despisers of Christianity but often aided and abetted by Christians themselves.

Take, for example, the calendar. I am not thinking primarily of Santa displacing the Christ child or the Easter Bunny replacing the Resurrection; nor do I mean the transfer of festivals that fall in midweek (e.g., Epiphany or Pentecost or All Saints) to the nearest Sunday. I mean the dramatic, wholesale evacuation of Sunday as a holy day. At eleven o’clock on Sunday morning at Home Depot or Lowe’s the lines of folks with cans of paint, two-by-fours, and joint cement stretch almost as far as they do on a Saturday morning. The only lingering difference between Sunday and other days of the week is that the malls open later and close earlier. The churches, particularly the bishops of the Catholic Church, were complicit in the desacralization of Sunday as a holy day when they introduced late Saturday afternoon liturgies, called Vigil Masses. A more fitting name would be McMasses. The faithful can fulfill their obligation by slipping into church for a half hour or so on Saturday afternoon and then have Sunday to themselves without the pesky inconvenience of getting the family up for Mass.

Of course, one might retort that in the United States (unlike in Europe) the churches are flourishing and the number of Christians is growing. Yes, there are many Christians in the U.S., but can we still claim to be a Christian society? If one uses any measure other than individual adherence (what people say if asked) or even church attendance, it is undeniable that the influence of Christianity on the life and mores of our society is on the wane. And the decline is likely to continue. Which leads to a question: Can Christian faith—no matter how enthusiastically proclaimed by evangelists, how ably expounded by theologians and philosophers, or how cleverly translated into the patois of the intellectual class by apologists—be sustained for long without the support of a nurturing Christian culture? By culture, I do not mean high culture (Bach’s B-Minor Mass, Caravaggio’s The Calling of St. Matthew); I mean the “total harvest of thinking and feeling,” to use T. S. Eliot’s phrase—the pattern of inherited meanings and sensibilities encoded in rituals, law, language, practices, and stories that can order, inspire, and guide the behavior, thoughts, and affections of a Christian people.

When one understands culture in this way, the classical distinction between Christ and culture, popularized in H. Richard Niebuhr’s 1950s book by that title, gives us little help. Some have observed, accurately in my view, that one difficulty with his analysis is that “culture” is really another term for “world,” the unredeemed territory in which human beings live. For Niebuhr the question is how the gospel, Christ, can penetrate the world, culture, without losing its distinctive character.

It seems to me, however, that the deficiency with the Christ-and-Culture scheme lies not in Niebuhr’s understanding of culture but in his view of Christ. For Niebuhr, Christ is a theological idea, and most of his book is taken up by an analysis of Christian thinkers who illustrate five basic types of the relation between this theological idea and culture. Niebuhr is largely silent about the actual historical experience of the Church, about culture on the ground, about institutions such as the episcopacy and the papacy (there is no mention of Gregory VII and the investiture controversy), monasticism, civil and canon law, calendar, and the ordering of civic space (the church standing on the central city square). But Christ entered history as a community, a society, not simply as a message, and the form taken by the community’s life is Christ within society. The Church is a culture in its own right. Christ does not simply infiltrate a culture; Christ creates culture by forming another city, another sovereignty with its own social and political life.
With these admittedly sketchy observations in mind, let me turn to three moments in the Church’s history to illustrate how Christ becomes culture and endures as culture.

By the middle of the second century, Christians were beginning to be known in the Roman world, but they did not bear the marks usually associated with a distinctive community. In the oft-cited passage from the so-called Epistle to Diognetus (it is really an apology), Christians are distinguished from others not by nationality, language, or by custom. They do not have their own cities, and their way of life is inconspicuous. It was known that Christians honored Christ as God, refused to venerate the gods and goddesses of Greece and Rome, and gathered regularly for a ritual meal. Yet there was little else to identify them. They met in the homes of the wealthier members; they used in their worship the language of the city in which they dwelled; they owned no land; they had no temples (in fact, no buildings at all), no cemeteries of their own, and no religious calendar. The bishop was not a public personage and the Church, as a social entity, was invisible.
Take, for example, the earliest Christian art. If a Christian living in 200 a.d. wished to have an object in his home that gave artistic expression to Christian belief, what might it be? He would go to a craftsman and select a lamp stamped with a conventional symbol that could yield a Christian interpretation: a dove, a fish, a ship, an anchor, or a shepherd carrying a lamb. When placed in a Christian home, a symbol which had one meaning to the Romans was invested with a Christian meaning: the dove for gentleness; the fish for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior; the shepherd for philanthropia or Christ the good shepherd. In buying and displaying objects such as lamps or rings or seals, Christians created the first Christian art (of which we have knowledge), but what the symbols represented lay in the eyes of the beholder, not in the object. As far as Roman society was concerned Christianity was invisible.

At the beginning of the third century, however, Christians in Rome took a bold stride. They pooled their resources to purchase a plot of land on the Via Appia Antica outside the city; there they constructed an underground burial chamber and commissioned artists to decorate the walls and ceilings with frescoes. A Roman Christian by the name of Callistus, who later became bishop of Rome, oversaw the construction, which today is known as the Catacomb of St. Callistus. Only a few of the paintings have survived, but the catacomb itself is largely intact. It is not simply a few burial niches, but a vast underground cemetery with chapels, ceiling and wall decorations, and paintings that depict persons and stories from the Bible. Its construction represents an organized effort (diggers, designers, plasterers, painters) on the part of the Christian community in Rome to create a distinctively Christian space. The catacombs were not hideouts during persecution; they were burial grounds and places of worship, and their location was not secret. When Christians buried their dead or went to the catacomb to celebrate the Eucharist their activities were evident to their fellow citizens.

The construction of a Christian catacomb required planning and money to choose the layout and décor and to pay the workmen. Most of the rooms are square, allowing for a symmetrical design to be imprinted on a ceiling of white plaster. The ceiling generally has a painted medallion at the apex to highlight a prominent image. In some rooms the figure of a young shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders occupies this central medallion. Other images portray the figure of Orpheus (understood as Christ) holding his lyre and surrounded by animals (Christ, unlike Orpheus, tames even the wildest of beasts, the human being, said Clement of Alexandria), Daniel as a heroic nude, and Jonah being cast overboard. The form of the images is familiar from Roman art, but by putting them together with wall paintings—Abraham with Isaac, Moses striking the rock in the desert, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Jesus being baptized in the Jordan—these Roman Christians created a uniquely Christian sanctuary.

What the Christians undertook on the Via Appia Antica was being done by other Christian communities at about the same time. As the art historian Corby Finney has observed, “A cultural event of some importance was taking place,” and we can see here a “transition from models of accomodation and adaptation that were materially invisible to a new level of Christian identity that was palpable and visible.” For the first time Christians were beginning to create a “material culture,” something that is tangible, occupies space, is public (though underground), and is distinctively Christian.
The Christians who planned and built this catacomb had given as much thought to their undertaking as bishops and philosophers had invested in defending the faith, expounding the Scriptures, or meeting the arguments of critics. Significantly, Christian culture first takes material shape in connection with caring for and remembering the dead. Memory, especially of the faithful departed, is a defining mark of Christian identity. The living joined their prayers with the saints’ prayers, which, according to the book of Revelation, were “golden bowls full of incense.” In organizing the community to construct a burial place and in decorating it with pictures depicting biblical stories, Christians were fashioning a communal public identity that would endure over the generations. As the Apostles’ Creed has it (in its earliest meaning), “I believe in communion with the saints.” Their aim was not to communicate the gospel to an alien culture but to nurture the Church’s inner life.

A second moment at which we see Christ becoming culture comes from a later period, and here the idiom is not space but time, the creation of a Christian calendar. Theologians and biblical scholars have made much of the New Testament understanding of kairos, the time when something decisive is to happen, an extraordinary moment long awaited. “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). But there is another kind of time, the marking of days and seasons. For the earliest Christians there was only one day, the day of the resurrection celebrated each time the community gathered, normally on Sunday. Already in the book of Revelation there is mention of the “Lord’s Day,” the Kyriake Hemera (Revelation 1:10) and in the Didache we hear of the “Day of the Lord” (Didache 14). By the middle of the second century, Christians had begun to celebrate a yearly festival, the Paschal Feast (death and resurrection of Christ) that began with a vigil on Saturday evening and continued through the night until the morning.

Over time other feasts were added. Christmas had begun to be observed in Rome in the middle of the fourth century. The Chronograph of Rome, a kind of calendar compiled for Roman Christians around the same time, lists Roman holidays, burial dates of Roman bishops and martyrs, and the birth of Christ, all in calendrical, not historical, order. “On the eighth day of the calends of January Christ was born in Bethlehem in Judea.” Christmas was soon complemented by the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, forty days after his birth. Ascension and Pentecost became fixed days. The Christian year was organized into two major cycles, one centered on Christ’s birth, the other on his suffering, death, and resurrection. Like the earliest (and later) Christian art, the liturgical year (as we now call it) had a narrative shape drawn from the Scriptures, particularly the Gospels. Through ritual it imprinted the biblical narrative on the minds and hearts of the faithful, not simply as a matter of private devotion but as a fully public act setting the rhythm of communal life.

At the beginning of the third century, Christians were less than one percent of the Roman empire’s population of some sixty million. By 300 a.d., there may have been six million Christians in the empire, but by mid-century the number had risen to over thirty million, about half of the total population. This rapid growth, with the conversion of the emperor Constantine to Christianity and his vigorous program of building churches, changed public practice. Significantly, the Christian calendar became a civic calendar. In 321 Constantine made Sunday a public holiday. It is shallow and petulant to rail against the political aspects of Constantinianism while ignoring the efforts of Christians of ancient times to stamp the face of Christ upon their society, in the ordering of time, in architecture, and in law (e.g., prohibiting the exposure of infants, a traditional form of “birth control”). The purpose of making Sunday into a holy day was to provide time for Christians to attend public worship, but it had the secondary effect of making Sunday a day of leisure, thereby laying the groundwork for a Christian Sabbath.

It should also be remembered that the success of Christianity also altered the marking of historical time. Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk in the sixth century, was the first to date events “from the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Anno Domini, a.d.). His scheme was adopted in the seventh century in England at the Synod of Whitby and was used by the Venerable Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
To the calendrical framework of Christmas, Presentation, Pasch, Ascension, and Pentecost were added special days remembering the martyrs and saints. Over time, the turning points in the year—the changing of seasons, the planting and harvesting of crops, the slaughtering of animals—took place on days named for saints or for events in the life of Christ.
The liturgical calendar makes religious remembrance habitual and familiar. The repetition of saints’ days and festivals of the Lord is a kind of spiritual metronome helping communal life to move in concord with the mysteries of the faith.
We should not underestimate the cultural significance of the calendar and its indispensability for a mature spiritual life. Religious rituals carry a resonance of human feeling accumulated over the centuries. They cannot easily be created and are hard to recover once left to languish. They touch us more deeply than national commemorations, such as the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. The season of Advent, for example, is a predictable reminder that the Church lives by another time, marked in the home by a simple ritual, the lighting of a violet Advent candle set in an evergreen wreath on a dark evening in early December.

Because feast days and sacred seasons run at right angles to the conventional calendar they offer a regular and fixed cessation of activity and, thus, the gift of leisure (a sine qua non of culture, as Josef Pieper has taught us). Feast days become times of reflection and contemplation that open us to mystery and transcendence. How soon, wrote W. H. Auden, “must we reenter, when lenient days are done, the world of work and money and minding our p’s and q’s.”
A third mode in which Christianity formed its own culture is language. In his magisterial Saint Augustin et la fin de la culture antique, historian Henri Marrou describes the grammatical and rhetorical milieu in which Augustine was educated in the Roman Empire of the late fourth century; he reports that in Augustine’s day educated Christians were the beneficiaries of an educational system that had been in place for hundreds of years. When Augustine wrote his treatise On Christian Doctrine (an essay on interpreting and expounding the Scriptures), he could assume that his readers knew Latin grammar and the standard rhetorical techniques.

But a hundred years later such knowledge could no longer be taken for granted. Few cities could any longer meet the expense of paying teachers and maintaining schools. Beginning in the sixth century a number of distinguished educators emerged in the Church, persons such as Boethius, Cassiodorus, Benedict of Nursia, Isidore of Seville, and the Venerable Bede. Their task was not, as Augustine’s had been, to transform what had been received; it was, rather, to preserve and transmit what was being forgotten or to translate what could no longer be read. Christianity now assumed responsibility for managing the mechanisms of the Latin language.

Cassiodorus was born in 485 to a southern Italian senatorial family. During his middle years he served in the court of the Ostrogothic kings of Italy, putting his literary talents to work compiling edicts and official letters and recording notable events. When he was seventy years old he returned home and founded a monastery at Squillace on the southernmost coast of Italy. There he moved his library and gathered a company of scholars to make copies of the Scriptures and the classics of Latin Christian literature, to translate Greek works, and to write a compendium of Christian and secular learning.
Cassiodorus’ compendium is markedly different from the writings of Augustine, Ambrose, or Jerome. Its chief purpose was to provide his readers with elementary instruction in “divine letters.” So Cassiodorus begins with a listing of the books of the Bible, the order and division of the books, how they are to be interpreted, and brief comments on Christian teachers, such as Hilary, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Jerome. But then one comes upon a chapter entitled, “On Scribes and the Remembering of Correct Spelling.” In the second part of the book, on “secular letters,” he devotes a section to grammar, which he calls “the foundation of liberal studies.” His aim was to transmit the basic skills of grammar and rhetoric for the purpose of copying the Scriptures accurately, because “every word of the Lord written by the scribe is a wound inflicted on Satan.” When Cassiodorus was ninety years old he wrote OnOrthography, a spelling handbook for his copyists. (The Latin letters v and b were particularly troublesome to copyists who worked by ear.)

Another writer known almost wholly for his grammatical, linguistic, and encyclopedic studies is the Spanish bishop Isidore of Seville. Though not a thinker of the first rank, he is comfortably seated in the second. (Dante places him in the fourth heaven, along with the Venerable Bede and Richard of St. Victor.) Born into the landed gentry of Cartagena, he was educated in a monastic school in Seville under the supervision of his brother Leander, who was the bishop of Seville. In 600 he succeeded his brother as bishop and subsequently had a profound influence on the liturgy and laws of the Spanish Church.
Isidore’s Etymologies is an immense encyclopedia, an attempt to summarize all knowledge by drawing on the vast reservoir of classical writers, and his Liber differentiarum sive de proprietate sermonum deals with the meanings of words and the distinctions one must make to use them correctly (something like a Fowler’s Modern English Usage).

Isidore recognized that grammar, “the science of expressing oneself correctly,” is crucial not only for reading, writing, and speaking, but also for thinking and understanding. Grammar is knowledge of the way language works and of the rules that govern the relation of words and concepts. Without grammar there can be no transmission of the text of the Scriptures and no understanding of its content; hence, no grammar, no Christian culture.
Culture lives by language, and the sentiments, thoughts, and feelings of a Christian culture are formed and carried by the language of the Scriptures. St. Augustine, for instance, believed that there was a distinctively Christian language, what he called the Church’s way of speaking (ecclesiastica loquendi consuetudo). He considered the term “martyr” (witness) to be a word sanctioned by the Bible (notably in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles) and hallowed by early Christian usage. It would be “contrary to the usage of the Church,” said Augustine, to replace it with the conventional Latin term for hero, vir. Salvator (savior) is also a biblical word with pronounced Christian overtones: natus est vobis hodie Salvator, qui est Christus Dominus. In conventional Latin salus meant health, not salvation. Christians, however, coined the words salvare (to save) and salvator (savior); in doing so they began to create a Christian language formed by the Scriptures.

There are some words and phrases in Christian culture that are simply irreplaceable. Words and phrases such as “obedience,” “grace,” “long-suffering” (the biblical form of patience), “image of God,” “suffering servant,” “adoption,” “will of God”—when used again and again—form our imagination and channel our affections. The recitation of the psalms day after day, week after week, transforms the words of the psalmists from texts to be interpreted into words we use to praise, beseech, confess, thank, and adore God—as well as words by which we know ourselves before God, “O Lord, Thou has searched me and known me! . . . Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.”

If there is a distinctly Christian language, we must be wary of translation. We cannot hand on to the next generation what the words signify if we do not hold fast to the words. Jerusalem cannot become Paris or Moscow or New York without losing its rootedness in the biblical narrative. Certain words must be used as they have been received in Christian speech, e.g., “Father,” “Son,” “Holy Spirit,” “Lord” (as in “Lord, have mercy”), “glory” (as used in the Gospel of John for Christ’s passion), “sin” (“against thee only have I sinned”), “emptied” (as in “emptied himself taking the form of a servant”), “resurrection” (as in “raised from the dead on the third day”), “flesh” (as in “works of the flesh,” i.e., mental acts such as idolatry and jealousy, not only sins of the body, such as fornication), even “self” (as in the parable of the elder brother—“he came to himself”). It will not do to erase the term “self” and put in its place “came to his senses,” as the current Catholic lectionary has it; nor will it do to reword, out of ignorance and ideology, the first verse of Psalm 1, turning “blessed is the man,” into “blessed are those who” (as the New Revised Standard Version does), thereby excluding the ancient christological reading of the psalm.
Material culture and with it art, calendar and with it ritual, grammar and with it language, particularly the language of the Bible—these are only three of many examples (monasticism would be another) that could be brought forth to exemplify the thick texture of Christian culture, the fullness of life in the community that is Christ’s form in the world.

Nothing is more needful today than the survival of Christian culture, because in recent generations this culture has become dangerously thin. At this moment in the Church’s history in this country (and in the West more generally) it is less urgent to convince the alternative culture in which we live of the truth of Christ than it is for the Church to tell itself its own story and to nurture its own life, the culture of the city of God, the Christian republic. This is not going to happen without a rebirth of moral and spiritual discipline and a resolute effort on the part of Christians to comprehend and to defend the remnants of Christian culture. The unhappy fact is that the society in which we live is no longer neutral about Christianity. The United States would be a much less hospitable environment for the practice of the faith if all the marks of Christian culture were stripped from our public life and Christian behavior were tolerated only in restricted situations.
If Christian culture is to be renewed, habits are more vital than revivals, rituals more edifying than spiritual highs, the creed more penetrating than theological insight, and the celebration of saints’ days more uplifting than the observance of Mother’s Day. There is great wisdom in the maligned phrase ex opere operato, the effect is in the doing. Intention is like a reed blowing in the wind. It is the doing that counts, and if we do something for God, in the doing God does something for us.

The poet Dana Gioia, the current director of the National Endowment for the Arts, puts it nicely in the poem “Autumn Inaugural”:
There will always be those who reject ceremony, who claim that resolution requires no fanfare, those who demand the spirit stay fixed like a desert saint, fed only on faith, to worship in no temple but the weather.

Gioia acknowledges the point:
Symbols betray us.They are always more or less than what is really meant.
But shall there be no processions by torchlight because we are weak?Praise to the rituals that celebrate change,old robes worn for new beginnings,solemn protocol where the mutable soul,surrounded by ancient experience,grows young in the imagination’s white dress.Because it is not the rituals we honorbut our trust in what they signify, these ritesthat honor us as witnesses—whether to watchlovers swear loyalty in a careless worldor a newborn washed with water and oil.

If Christ is culture, let the sidewalks be lit with fire on Easter Eve, let traffic stop for a column of Christians waving palm branches on a spring morning, let streets be blocked off as the faithful gather for a Corpus Christi procession. Then will others know that there is another city in their midst, another commonwealth, one that has its face, like the faces of angels, turned toward the face of God.

Robert Louis Wilken is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia. The original version of this article was delivered as the Palmer Lecture at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey.

Paul Greenberg: Connecting the Saddam-Osama Dots

By Paul Greenberg The Washington Times August 18, 2004

When the vice president of the United States touched down here in Arkansas the other day, he went down his list of talking points with accustomed dispatch.
Nobody ever accused Dick Cheney of being some kind of touchy-feely romantic. That may be one of the more assuring things about him in these dangerous times. Say what you like about the guy, he's not cute. (Unlike, say, John Edwards.) The essence of his stump speech was, "Sometimes the other team is stuck in a pre-September 11 mentality."

Whereupon, the senior senator from Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln, rose to the defense of her party. In particular, she challenged the vice president's claim that one reason Saddam Hussein needed to be locked up (among others) was his regime's connection with the al Qaeda network. Mrs. Lincoln was quick to say there really wasn't much of a connection between the two and, "If Vice President Cheney has all this proof he's been talking about, maybe he should share it with folks."

Nice jab, but the senator needn't go to Mr. Cheney for documentation. She could just read the recent report of the bipartisan September 11 commission, which records a number of contacts between al Qaeda and Saddam's Iraq.
In a revealing sidelight, the report quotes Richard C. Clarke — yes, the former counterterrorism chief who has been claiming Osama bin Laden had no connection with Saddam's regime.

Yet Mr. Clarke opposed a U-2 flight to track down Osama in Afghanistan because the Pakistanis would need to be apprised of it and they, in turn, might let Osama know the Americans were about to bomb him. "Armed with that knowledge," Mr. Clarke warned, "old wily Osama will likely boogie to Baghdad." Once there, warned Clarke, he would put his terrorist network at Saddam's service, and it would be "virtually impossible" to track him down. It's all there on Page 134 of the commission's report. (Osama's actual meeting with one of Saddam Hussein's senior intelligence officers in late 1994 or early 1995 is mentioned earlier, on Page 61.)

If that's not enough to establish a Saddam-Osama connection, Mrs. Lincoln could take up the matter with Lee Hamilton, vice chairman of the September 11 Commission.
When the usual suspects in the media (the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, et al.) tried to give the commission's report the same spin Mrs. Lincoln did, Mr. Hamilton said: "There were contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq going back clear to the early 1990s, when Osama bin Laden was in Sudan, then when he was in Afghanistan. I don't think there's any dispute about that."

If still doubtful, Mrs. Lincoln could just read the papers. Even the New York Times, not exactly a Republican organ, eventually caught on. ("Iraqis, seeking foes of Saudis, contacted bin Laden, file says" — New York Times, June 25.)
Mrs. Lincoln is an impressive lady — when she knows what she's talking about. On this subject, the senator is, yes, stuck in that pre-September 11 mentality the vice president mentioned. She is still not connecting the dots.

Exactly how strong or continuous was the connection between Saddam's regime and Osama's outfit? That question could be debated indefinitely without ever reaching a clear conclusion. But that's not to say the connection was weak or nonexistent. How weak could it have been if Richard Clarke's first reaction to a scheme to hit Osama's camp from the air was that al Qaeda's leader would probably "boogie to Baghdad"?

Osama bin Laden's pattern was to establish a close working relationship only with the rogue regime whose hospitality he enjoyed at the moment — whether in Sudan or Afghanistan. But as Richard Clarke instinctively recognized, that wouldn't have kept wily old Osama from moving to Iraq and linking up with Saddam's operation in a Baghdad minute.

This debate over the Saddam-Osama connection grows tedious. Americans are a forward-looking people, much more interested in where we go from here than in debating different views of the past. But this much is beyond dispute:

There no longer is a connection between these outlaws. And there's not likely to be one in the future. That's one thing we needn't worry about just now. Osama is on the run and Saddam is no longer lobbing missiles at American jets almost daily.
Thanks to the Bush administration and, to give credit where it's really due, the U.S. armed forces and those of our allies, Saddam's realm now has been reduced to one jail cell. Surely even Mr. Cheney's critics would agree that's an improvement.

Paul Greenberg is a nationally syndicated columnist.