Saturday, May 05, 2018

Have You Really Not Read 'Chance or the Dance?'

Anyone who loves C. S. Lewis and who has not read it is almost missing a new book in the Lewis oeuvre.

May 5, 2018

Image result for thomas howard metaxas

Once upon a time — when I was a young man — I fell as it were under a spell. Truth be told, I did not so much fall under it as I was buoyed up by it. It was not the standard fairy-tale ensorcelling that pushes upright humans downward toward four-footed bestiality, but was rather the magnificent opposite of such. It was the kind of spell that turns straw into gold, that ennobles. In fact, it was very much as though I had been carried from a low neighborhood of mud and brindle hair to the very ramparts of heaven.
This took place 30 summers ago, when I bowed my knee to that Sovereign of Sovereigns, whose coming is prophesied in the ancient Scriptures of Israel. Truth be told, this new allegiance was the best thing that ever happened to me, which is itself a deep understatement. Yet this tremendous boon came with some difficulties too. For one thing, how was I to explain this dramatic change of situation to my “educated” and “civilized” friends who had not been similarly entranced, and who thought my newfound joy something barbaric, if not as undeniable evidence of my having become non compos mentis?
I myself wondered about a few things too. For one thing, precisely how was I to reconcile my newfound faith with certain aspects of my previous life? For example, must I leave behind forever my love of words and ideas and meaning? Was this new world of serious Christian faith compatible with an ardor for classical and even “pagan” literature? With puns and poesy? I seemed to have evidence that it was not; and so I was troubled.
Then someone on a white steed hurriedly rode toward me — his name is Tibor Lengyel, but we must not name him publicly here — and he dramatically pointed me toward a book titled Chance or the Dance? It was by an author named Thomas Howard. That book I did find, did open, and did read. And my life was then and forever changed. It was as though I had drunk a silvery draught of water from the very Well-at-the-End-of-the-World itself. So it is a fact that reading that extraordinary book was for me like a miracle — and was not merely like a miracle but really was a miracle. And the book itself is a miracle still, which is why I am raving about it here. But how to describe it?
Let us imagine that C. S. Lewis had lived well beyond 1963 and had written many more essays and poems and books. Imagine that six years after we thought he had died he had in fact produced one of his most beautiful and important books, titled Chance or the Dance? In fact, anyone who loves C. S. Lewis and who has not read Chance or the Dance? is almost missing a new book in the Lewis oeuvre. It is simply that good and that reminiscent of the Lewisian world. There are differences between Lewis and Howard, to be sure. For one thing Howard’s prose style is even better than Lewis’s. I hope that everyone can at least agree that it is more beautiful — even sumptuous — and I have no doubt that old Jack would himself agree. (By the way, as a graduate student in England, Tom Howard visited the great Lewis at his home in Oxfordshire and spent an afternoon with him there, but that’s another story.)
Unlike most books, the book of which I am here speaking is virtually impossible to categorize. What exactly is it? For one thing, it is a manifesto that asserts the grand old medieval Christian worldview over and above the current secularist one. You know that latter one, don’t you? It’s the one that is so depleted and deflated and paralyzingly depressing that we hardly ever really think about it, because it’s simply too much to bear. So we just seem to accept it, as though it simply described the godforsaken way things are — and accept too that we must nonetheless soldier on. But what toward? Toward the dust of death. But this book defies that very basest of all ideas. It flies the indefatigably and multiply bright standard of Meaning. And Truth and Beauty and Goodness. It is bracing and inspiring — a kind of call to arms, like the staccato blast of a bouquet of golden trumpets. Who can ignore it?
But the book is a kind of prose symphony too, which manifestos manifestly never are. In another way it is a kind of a rambling yet manicured and sweeping lawn, punctuated appropriately with a population of ancient and agreeable marble busts. There are even some sheep in the distance, just beyond the ancient ha-ha. There are things in it that one simply cannot forget. And in a nutshell it poses a choice between those two worldviews just described.
First, there is Chance, in which all is random, a wan modern world — like a fragile, weasel-sucked egg — devoid of all meaning and where nothing is more than the dead sum of its dead parts, where an utterly random series of accidental events somehow ended up in creating the infinitely variegated cosmos in which we find ourselves, somehow musing on our place in it, only to conclude that our existence and all we have created and thought over the millennia has no more actual meaning than does a rock on a dead planet a billion billion billion miles from the wild flowers around the Parthenon. The Dance, on the other hand, is a divinely orchestrated poetic and genuinely infinitely meaningful movement through history — that progression and ascension toward God, and toward the ultimate meaning of all things, large and small. The book asks us, then: Which is true? Which of these two views is grace-filled and glorious? And which of them deprives us forever of those categories we call grace-filled and glorious?
There are a handful of books that not to have read will place one at a serious disadvantage. They are foundational and help us understand the world in a way that is positively vital. They are primers, giving us a new vocabulary with which to apprehend the cosmos. To read such books is something like learning to tie a shoe. It is an experience without which life is inestimably more difficult, and even dangerous. Who wants to trip on one’s shoelaces over and over throughout the long decades, perhaps even unaware that they even are meant to be tied?
But back to the prose. It is exquisite to the point of sometimes being baroque, but never rococo. It is nearly as lapidary as Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, but is never cloyingly so, as some of Chesterton’s aphorism-riddled writings can be, however good they are. And like Chesterton, this book is both lapidary and funSadly, the universe of such writing seems limited to the works of these two authors. But be of good cheer: The little sea that is Chance or the Dance? is inestimably and impossibly wonderful. I cannot think of a single book in creation that says anything approaching what it says, and certainly not with the √©lan and joie de vivre and fitness with which it says it.
For example, would you like to understand once and forever the forlorn folly of so-called sexuality outside marriage? More to the point, would you like to understand exactly what sex is and what it is for? Here you will find it. And incidentally, if you ever in your life discover a better chapter on sex than the one in Chance or the Dance? titled “Sex,” do not delay in dropping everything and chartering a plane to wherever I am to share it with me, for which trouble and expense I will hock all I have to reimburse you. In this book one may see with one’s whole soul how the modern, materialistic view of the world is as sad and terrifically silly as anything could be: as a snake swallowing its own tail — and then vanishing into thin air with a faintly audible pop. Ciao!
But have I said enough about the prose? I have not. The book is a happy bramble of giddy turns of phrase, and through it that reader will proceed best who proceeds least hurried. Be absolutely certain that you give yourself the time to take in the whorls and the whoopee. And by all means feel free to look up — and then sunbathe in — such words as valetudinarian and purlieu and bibelot. And be sure to gambol and cut capers o’er the references to Vermeer and Wee Willie Winky and Ultima Thule. And by all means turn cartwheels and handsprings around such sentences as “Don’t insist on seeing a cosmic order in Goosey, Goosey, Gander.” Acrobatics are the only appropriate response.
Must we cut to the chase? There is nothing like it. It stands apart in what it is and what it says. Read it for yourself and tell me to what you would compare it. To a Shakespearean sonnet? At least that’s a start. And like all the truly best art, it has a powerful moral component. If I may say so, this book makes me want to be a better man. If you are a man I suspect it will make you want to be a better man, too; and if you are a woman it will make you want to be a better woman.
But why am I saying all this now, nearly 50 years after the book was first published? That’s a simple question to answer: because it came to my attention that this gemlike work of art had recently gone out of print! The very moment the smoke stopped blasting from my ears I contacted the publisher, Ignatius Press — which I highly recommend, not least for publishing Tom Howard’s books, not to mention those of other great writers like the aforementioned Chesterton and like that brilliant apologist and philosopher Peter Kreeft too, who himself counts Chance or the Dance? as one of ten books he would take to a desert island. I asked Ignatius if there was any way at all to remedy this new gasp-inducing ellipsis in American letters. I vowed to do anything I could to help, including writing a foreword to a new edition (which I did and from which this essay is adapted). And Father Fessio, the great founder and leader of Ignatius, agreed: and so — mirabile dictu — the book is again in print! It is in print this very minute!
But I haven’t yet told you about the author.
Image result for thomas howard c s lewis
Thomas Howard
In the summer of 1998, nine years after reading the little book that changed my life I found myself headed to Oxford University for the centenary of C. S. Lewis’s birth. I was in part excited to go because I understood that Thomas Howard was to be there. But could the author of such a book really exist in the same world in which I did? I never expected to meet Horace or Boccaccio; why should I expect to meet Thomas Howard? But then on the omnibus from Heathrow I met a woman who was also headed to the Lewis event; and somehow it came out that she was friends with the Howards. I gulped.
And then it happened. Later that day there was a reception in the grassy quadrangle of Magdalen College, which was C. S. Lewis’s college at Oxford, and whose particular golden greenness — framed by the stone cloistered walks — seemed itself to partake of the Middle Ages. The woman to whom I was speaking on the bus saw me and introduced me to her friend, Lovelace Howard. When I visibly goggled to be speaking to the wife of the man whose book had changed my life, she smiled and said: “Would you like to meet him?”
I said that I would and she disappeared into the crowd and I waited. And then, out of that same crowd came the very man himself. “What ho?” quoth he, for he actually talks as he writes. He was indefatigably self-deprecating and I could hardly believe I was talking to him. The next day, dressed in an academic gown, he gave a talk in the Sheldonian — that illustrious building designed by Sir Christopher Wren — whose interior is painted in that uniquely English orange-red and gold, and I remember that in his talk he used the word “ultra-marine.” Like most of Howard’s writing, his speech was all just perfectly shy of grandiloquence.
In the 20 years since then I have had the inestimable privilege of befriending him and of trying to convince him that his book changed my life, but — alas and alack! — to no avail. That I even would use that ejaculation in an essay should prove the point all by itself, once and for all. But my humble mentor will have none of it. If you try to convince him of such things he will only retreat into the depths like a cuttlefish, all the while squirting ink that spells “Oh, pshaw!” In fact, no matter how you try to praise him he will invariably and frustratingly adopt a perfectly Puddleglummian demeanor, the only difference between his adoption of it and Puddleglum’s being that unlike the venerable Puddleglum, Thomas Howard does not have the good excuse of actually being a Marsh-wiggle, which strikes those who know and love him as a dispositive distinction.
Still, you needn’t take my word for it. You can yourself in the book catch a gray glimpse of marshy hue in the final sentences of his new preface right after my foreword! He there says that this book was his reply to the question of our epoch, whether there exists divine order in creation, and then he says he leaves to the reader to ponder whether a reply is tenable. Whether a reply is tenable! Whether! “But of course a reply is tenable!” we all wish to shout. “And this book, dearest Tom, is that golden reply itself — and if you could bear to hear it, it is the best reply thereto ever written and that anyone ever will write, by full fathoms five and then some. Put that in your corncob pipe, sir, and smoke it!” Ahem.
Before you buy the book and enter the realm of Thomas Howard’s glorious and luminescent writing, please imagine an island in the middle of the sea. Imagine boarding an old-fashioned ship named Omphalos and sailing thither. And imagine learning that there is in the middle of that seagirt isle a sparkling freshwater lake. And imagine traveling overland to that sparkling lake and beholding in its midst a small island. Why do you want to go there? But you do. But why? Reading Chance or the Dance? is somehow like visiting that island; and reading it will even help explain why you want to go to that island. And it will help explain why you hope that that small island in the middle of the lake will in turn have a small pond upon it. And perhaps . . . but enough. Tolle lege.
Eric Metaxas is the author of BonhoefferIf You Can Keep It, and Martin Luther and hosts the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas Show. He is also founder of Socrates in the City, where copies of Chance or the Dance? may be purchased at a discount.

Marx’s Apologists Should Be Red in the Face

By Paul Kengor
May 3, 2018
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Karl Marx is buried at Highgate Cemetery in London, one of the world's most visited cemeteries
May 5 marks the bicentennial of Karl Marx, who set the stage with his philosophy for the greatest ideological massacres in history. Or did he?
He did, but deniers still remain. “Only a fool could hold Marx responsible for the Gulag,” writes Francis Wheen in “Karl Marx: A Life” (1999). Stalin, Mao and Kim Il Sung, Mr. Wheen insists, created “bastard creeds,” “wrenched out of context” from Marx’s writings.
Marx has been accused of ambiguity in his writings. That critique is often justified, but not always. In “The Communist Manifesto,” he and Friedrich Engels were quite clear that “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.”
“You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property,” they wrote. “But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population.” And this: “In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”
Marx and Engels acknowledged that their views stood undeniably contrary to the “social and political order of things.” Communism seeks to “abolish the present state of things” and represents “the most radical rupture in traditional relations.”
Toward that end, the manifesto offers a 10-point program, including “abolition of property in land,” “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax,” “abolition of all right of inheritance,” “centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly,” “centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state” and the “gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country.”
In a preface to their 10 points, Marx and Engels acknowledged their coercive nature: “Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads.” In the close of the Manifesto, Marx said, “The Communists . . . openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”
They were right about that. Human beings would not give up fundamental liberties without resistance. Seizing property would require a terrible fight, including the use of guns and gulags. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and a long line of revolutionaries and dictators candidly admitted that force and violence would be necessary.
We’re told the philosophy was never the problem—that Stalin was an aberration, as were, presumably, Lenin, Trotsky, Ceausescu, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, the Kims and the Castros, not to mention the countless thousands of liquidators in the NKVD, the GRU, the KGB, the Red Guard, the Stasi, the Securitate, the Khmer Rouge, and on and on.
Couldn’t any of them read? Yes, they could read. They read Marx. The rest is history—ugly, deadly history.
Mr. Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include “A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Communism.”
Appeared in the May 4, 2018, print edition.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Why The Media Smears Jordan Peterson As ‘Alt-Right'

By Scott Greer
May 2, 2018
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NBC News thinks popular psychologist Jordan Peterson is an “alt-right intellectual.”
In a segment that aired Saturday, NBC portrayed Peterson as a dangerous man who seeks to use “psychology, religion and biology to justify the same inequality the Left opposes.”
Throughout the report, the Canadian professor is portrayed as a “favorite figure of the alt-right” — even though the alt-right is never defined.
That’s by design.
The NBC report skewering Peterson, a man even The Atlantic admits is not an extremist, is the latest example of journalists exploiting the amorphous nature of the term “alt-right” to smear various figures as white nationalists.
Peterson is a target for this attack because he’s a popular figure who argues against progressive orthodoxy and promotes conservative positions. His young, male audience raises additional alarms, so he earns the alt-right association to make him look too toxic for the mainstream.
When the term alt-right first emerged in the public eye in 2016, it was used to describe Donald Trump’s young, internet-based fans. In Hillary Clinton’s famous August 2016 speech, she included white nationalists, Alex Jones and Breitbart in the confines of the alt-right. At that time, the term was so broad that it could be applied to various figures and groups that seemed only to share a support for Trump and an online presence.
However, soon after Hillary’s speech, the only people who still embraced the term were white nationalists, while non-white nationalists outright rejected it.
Journalists at the time of the speech were critical of outlets saying alt-right without explaining what it meant — essentially what NBC did in its report on Peterson. They argued the lack of explanation allowed white nationalism to infiltrate the mainstream under the guise of a vague new term.
In response to that criticism, the Associated Press issued style guidelines that advised reporters to always define the alt-right as “an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism,” or just “a white nationalist movement.”
The AP made it clear to reporters that the term alt-right should be narrowly used to refer to white nationalists. Shockingly, reporters have discarded that advice and continue to use the word to paint non-white nationalists as white nationalists.
Example: Jordan Peterson. Another example: Kanye West’s new conservative fans.
Kanye made headlines last week with his series of pro-Trump tweets. The Washington Post published an op-ed that claimed the rap mogul was now an “alt-right darling.” The Post op-ed’s list of Kanye-loving “alt-right” personalities included black conservative Candace Owens, “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, Jordan Peterson (duh) and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
None of these people are alt-right and most white nationalists were not fans of conservatives coming to like Kanye. For instance, alt-right figure Richard Spencer was outspoken in denouncing the rapper and his new fans.
But the actual alt-right showing displeasure over Kanye didn’t matter to journalists who wanted to tie the African-American rapper to white nationalism.
Peterson, the man the media loves to portray as alt-right, has gone out of his way to denounce the movement and several white nationalists have attacked him in turn. The professor presents his message as an antidote to the alt-right and urges his fans to avoid political extremism.
All of this doesn’t matter to reporters who have an agenda to advance.
There may have been a point in time when journalists cared about accurately describing what the alt-right is. Now it’s just a useful smear to attack Canadian professors, Trump supporting rappers and standard American conservatives.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Karl Marx, You Were Wrong

But Campus diehards still make a case for him

By Ben Shapiro
May 2, 2018

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Karl Marx monument in Chemnitz, Germany

This week marks the birthday of one of history’s worst human beings, Karl Marx. Just because Marx’s philosophy would lead directly to the deaths of 100 million human beings over the course of a century, the imprisonment of tens of millions more in gulags and re-education camps from Russia to China to Vietnam to Cambodia to North Korea, and the oppression of hundreds of millions more hasn’t dissuaded those on the modern western left from embracing Marx’s bloody legacy. Realizing, however, that embracing Communism itself might alienate those who remember the Berlin Wall, today’s Marxists rally instead for identity politics. In the pages of the New York Times — the same newspaper that in the past two years has run opinion pieces endorsing Communism’s impact on female empowerment and female sexual activity and its inspirational effects on Americans — Kyung Hee University associate professor of philosophy Jason Barker celebrated Marx’s birthday, writing, “Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!”

What, exactly, was Marx right about?

He wasn’t right about economics — his theory of economics is tripe. He wasn’t right about history unfolding as a glorious Hegelian progression toward a socialist utopia either. But according to Baker, he was right about one thing: The dispossessed of the world would unite to change human nature by changing the system of oppression under which they lived. Marx, says Baker, was right about class exploitation — the rich exploiting the poor. But it’s in the guise of victim groups based on race and sex that Marx’s dialectic finds its true apotheosis:
Racial and sexual oppression have been added to the dynamic of class exploitation. Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx through their unapologetic targeting of the “eternal truths” of our age. Such movements recognize, as did Marx, that the ideas that rule every society are those of its ruling class and that overturning those ideas is fundamental to true revolutionary progress.
Here, Baker is merely rehashing the writings of members of the Frankfurt School Marxists such as Herbert Marcuse, who argued that
human beings who have lived in the shadow of this culture, the victims of the power structure . . . now oppose to the “music of the spheres” which was the most sublime achievement of this culture their own music, with all the defiance, and the hatred, and the joy of rebellious victims, defining their own humanity against the definitions of the masters.
Instead of a revolution of the proletariat, then, Marxism now seeks a revolution of the victims — the various groups of dispossessed who feel that the system has been stacked against them. And it is far easier to unite such groups around intersectional themes than it is to unite them around income disparity. There may not be any serious brotherhood between those who don’t earn much money, but pure tribalism forms lasting ties — and Marxists are happy to mold those tribes into a new nation of rebels.
The hope, of course, is that such a new nation would in turn breed a new type of human being. Baker explains that we are “used to the go-getting mantra that to effect social change we first have to change ourselves.” But in reality, according to Marx, we cannot change ourselves because the system has already defined us. By redefining the system, we can “transition to a new society where relations among people, rather than capital relations, finally determine an individual’s worth.” All we have to do is band together to tear down capitalism, and man will blossom forth in his full beauty. Tearing down is building up.
This is dangerous nonsense. And while advocates of Marxism today disown the Stalinists and the Maoists and the Castro regime and Venezuela and North Korea, all of those nations thought they were fulfilling Marx’s dream, too. That’s because they were. There is no new human nature on the horizon; human beings aren’t defined purely by the system under which they live. Only a system that makes room for our all-too-human flaws, that counterbalances failings with consequences and selfishness with non-aggression, can channel those flaws into something useful.
No, Marx wasn’t right. But the Left will never let him go, because he offers the only true alternative to the religious view of human nature — the view of man that says he is not a blank slate, not an angel waiting for redemption, but a flawed creature capable of great things. To achieve those great things is hard work. To change ourselves on an individual level is hard work. To spout about the evils of society — that’s certainly easy enough.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Why Tolkien’s world endures

April 29, 2018
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In the past month two major pieces of J R R Tolkien news have come out. First, Amazon’s buying of the rights to produce a multi-series show based on Tolkien’s Middle-earth, likely to cost $1billion. Second, a new Tolkien book, The Fall of Gondolin, set hundreds of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ringsis to be published in August.
HarperCollins would not be publishing a book if they didn’t think it would sell, nor would Amazon spend $1billion on something no one was going to watch. Clearly, Tolkien’s tales continue to be popular – absurdly so considering that The Hobbit was published in 1937 – but the question is why? What is it about these stories, other than the impeccable, velvety prose, that keeps pulling people back in? Tolkien’s influence can also be felt on two other major fantasy series, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter.
Tolkien was a devout Catholic and his faith seeps into every word of his writing. The stories from Middle-earth are of good, evil and human frailty that echo the stories of the Bible, and the everyday battle that we encounter with ourselves, others, and the world around us. The author himself said that The Lord of the Rings is ‘a fundamentally religious and Catholic work’.
In contrast to his good friend C S Lewis, Tolkien’s faith was not overtly displayed in his writing, but fundamental Catholic teaching is hidden throughout the epic. The true heroes of the story are the hobbits, the little, humble people who are pure in heart and stout in their bravery. At the end of The Return of the King all the high and mighty of Middle-earth, including the newly crowned king, bow down to the hobbits, perhaps an allegory of Jesus’s washing of the disciples’ feet and His constant exhortations to serve the poor.
Frodo is chosen to carry the ring, not the warrior Aragorn nor the wise Gandalf, because his humility and his weakness make him better placed to resist the prideful corruption of the ring. This is Christian teaching, that only by making ourselves weak in the eyes of the world do we become strong in the eyes of God. As St Paul said: ‘When I am weak, I am strong.’
The Christian roots of Middle-earth can be discussed at great length, and The Silmarillion’s account of the beginnings of Middle-earth is explicitly influenced by Genesis. That Tolkien made it subtle in his best-known work, yet people still adore his stories, shows the transcendent attraction of these truths. On a subconscious level Tolkien’s tales of bravery, humility and loyalty resonate because we were created by God who lovingly inscribed these virtues on our hearts.
Readers are attracted to Frodo, Gandalf and Aragorn because they represent the three distinct aspects of Jesus’s ministry: priest, prophet and king. Jordan Peterson would say that Christ is the archetype of heroism in the Western canon but Tolkien would say He wasn’t an archetype but a real, living person and God who saved us with His resurrection. Through his three heroes, Tolkien reflects the inexpressible beauty of Christ, and to this redemptive glory people are drawn.
It is testament to Tolkien’s genius that in a time of mechanised, atomised materialism with a large dollop of anti-Christian sentiment, his stories are still hugely popular. Tolkien’s masterstroke was to avoid obvious allegory but to instead integrate his Catholicism into the entirety of the world. His stories are somewhat behind enemy lines, easily misconstrued as simply fantasy, yet happily pumping religious themes into the subconscious of his readers.
The effects of this can be profound. I, a former feckless, hedonistic, listless ingrate, would certainly never have returned home to Catholicism if it weren’t for the impact Tolkien had on my pliable mind as a young boy. Who knows who else out there will follow suit? It would be a delightful irony if Amazon’s purchasing of the rights to the series ended up making more Christians. I doubt that is their main intention.
Fionn Shiner - London-based writer who has written for spiked-online, the Huffington Post, Private Eye and the Daily Mirror, amongst others.

Today's Tune: The Killers - Rut

Tug of War Over the Iran Deal

May 1, 2018
Prime Minister Netanyahu in front of a screen that reads "Iran lied"
(Amir Cohen/Reuters)
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron came to Washington to lobby Donald Trump to break his promise to undo Barack Obama’s “Iran deal.” A few days later, Europe’s biggest figure, Germany’s Angela Merkel, came to town for the same purpose. Trump’s tendency to bend to the latest pressure being no secret, it was also no surprise that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a dramatic speech, citing chapter and verse about Iran’s nuclear program, intended to pull Trump back to his campaign promise: His “No. 1 priority” as president would be to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”
Netanyahu’s speech—cast as it was in terms of promises made and broken regarding military security, as opposed to the commercial interests that Merkel and Macron had brought to bear—seems to have had its intended effect. Trump said that Netanyahu’s details proved that he, Trump, had been “100 percent right” about “the deal,” and that withdrawing from it would “send the right message” to North Korea and others.
Netanyahu’s critics did not challenge his contention that the details came from very recent acquisitions of Israeli intelligence. There is no way of knowing the truth of that. More important, they could not dispute the accuracy of those details. The U.S. government confirmed that Iran’s nuclear program continues. Their main rejoinder is that Iran’s nuclear weapons program—which contradicts official contentions that it does not exist—is an old story. No less true for being old.
I doubt anybody is surprised that “the deal” did not pause or slow Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, never mind stop it. Neither can anyone be surprised that the program kept the same director and personnel, and merely changed names as well as (some) venues. Not a few of the deal’s supporters state now that, as in 2015, the program’s strength “vindicates the need” for it.
In short, Netanyahu’s speech brought us back to square one. What should have been done then? What is to be done now?
The Scope of Iran’s Threat
Reading Netanyahu’s description leads specialists to ask for even more details. Yes, the Iranians are working on the metallurgy and the hemispheric conventional explosives essential to detonate U-235. OK. Of what size are the prototypes? That would tell us something about the throw weight that Iranian missiles would have to produce to loft these weapons to any given range.
But such concerns on our part are a kind of voyeurism. Intelligence, by contrast, is information that you can do something with, or about. We already have that. The key fact is: sooner or later—it makes little difference which—Iran will be able to deliver nukes anywhere on the planet. Now what?
At least partially because of the deal, now even more than in 2015, Iran is leading one side of the perpetual Sunni-Shia war. In so doing, it imperils the world’s energy traffic. Through its proxies, Iran also threatens a war with Israel that would involve us. But it is doing so on an economic, social, and political razor’s edge, as well as in the face of a demographic implosion.
In such situations, the beginning of wisdom is to stop making matters worse for ourselves. “The deal” enriched Iran with cash and gave it new lifelines of trade. The cash is gone. But by exiting “the deal” and imposing secondary sanctions (no trade with whoever trades with Iran) the United States can destroy those lifelines, and more. We should.
Tehran Has Major Problems
The Islamic Republic’s foreign ventures and military programs are increasingly unpopular at home. Its economic policies and the corruption by which they are administered, as well as its disastrous management of Iran’s scarce water supplies, have further impoverished a poor population. The ruling Mullahs’ hypocrisy has deprived them of the people’s respect. This is not a people eager, or even able, to bear hardship to support their regime’s nuclear weapons program. Note that the regime has never admitted to its people that it is aiming at such weapons.
Nevertheless, the notion that “regime change” in Iran should be U.S. government policy is deeply mistaken. The Iranian people’s choice of regimes is rightly, and exclusively, their own. Moreover, nothing would work against any revolutionary movement more surely than being identified with the country that is inflicting economic privation on the entire country. And economic privation—big-time privation of the unendurable kind—is what U.S. secondary sanctions would inflict on Iran.
Secondary sanctions also would be cruel enough to reach the regime’s enforcers. The Iranian people would know why they are suffering: because their regime has been making war, and that it has been doing that from the very beginning. They are sick of war, and of their regime. No outsiders would have to tell Iranians to choose between war and peace.
Angelo M. Codevilla is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and the author of To Make And Keep Peace (Hoover Institution Press, 2014).


Huge intelligence find proves Trump’s suspicions correct.

May 1, 2018

Netanyahu: Iran ‘brazenly lied’ about secret nuke program
(Getty Images)

Israel now has proof of what many suspected all along about the disastrous nuclear deal that former President Barack Obama reached with the Iranian regime. “Iran did not come clean on its nuclear program,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu charged, claiming that more than 100,000 Iranian documents Israel’s intelligence agents obtained from a secret “atomic archive” in Tehran prove the nuclear deal is "based on lies.” This latest development should make President Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal a no-brainer.
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced in a press conference that the trove of secret nuclear weapons files came from a hidden Iranian site where they were moved in 2017. He said the files contain materials, which Israel has shared with the United States, that include “incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more.” The prime minister added that the United States has confirmed its authenticity, a claim supported by Trump administration officials who have reviewed the secret documents. 
"Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a powerful presentation today of compelling new evidence documenting Iran's determined pursuit of a nuclear weapon," a senior Trump administration official said, as quoted by the Free Beacon. "It certainly would have been helpful to have this information when the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] was negotiated but the Iranians decided to lock it away in a secret vault for future reference. Only the regime knows what else they're hiding, but the revelations today don't give us much confidence in their protestations that they have never had interest in militarizing their nuclear program."
The “atomic archive” documents reportedly reveal details about a hush-hush nuclear weapons plan known as Project Amad that began back in the early 1990’s. It was supposedly shut down in 2003, but, in actuality, the project work was carried on under different guises with the same Iranian scientists involved. The work has focused on what the prime minister said were five elements. As described by the Times of Israel, these elements consisted of “designing nuclear weapons, developing nuclear cores, building nuclear implosion systems, preparing nuclear tests and integrating nuclear warheads on missiles.” Since the flawed nuclear deal itself did not directly address Iran’s ballistic missile research and development program as it should have, Iran has felt free to work on perfecting the technology for nuclear warhead missile integration.
“Even after the deal, Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear know how for future use," Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, no doubt having the deal’s sunset clauses in mind. As Debkafile commented, “The material presented by the prime minister demonstrated that Iran’s nuclear program had been secretly stored intact for use at a time of its choice and posed an ever-present peril.”
Iran has played the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN watchdog which has repeatedly given Iran a clean bill of health for supposedly complying with its commitments under the nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA for short. Iran misled the IAEA into believing that Iran had discontinued the use of any technology for developing nuclear weapons.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mocked Prime Minister Netanyahu, tweeting, “The boy who can’t stop crying wolf is at it again… You can only fool some of the people so many times.” Zarif is right about only being able to fool some of the people so many times, but his comment applies to the Iranian regime itself. The regime fooled Obama and Kerry, who in turn sold a bill of goods to Congress and the American people. President Trump is not so easily fooled.
Indeed, President Trump now has the proof he needs to announce withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 12th, reimpose harsh sanctions for Iran’s lies to the IAEA and other deceptions, and at the same time send a message to the North Korean regime that he will not tolerate a meaningless paper agreement in his negotiations with Kim Jong-un. As the president noted in response to the evidence of Iran’s lies, it “really showed that I've been 100 per cent right. That is just not an acceptable situation.” 
Meanwhile, missile attacks in Syria Sunday evening struck two pro-Iranian Shiite command centers, including a depot with 200 Iranian missiles said to have been slated for transport to Hezbollah. Reportedly, eighteen Iranians were killed, including a senior officer. Israel has not claimed responsibility. However, Israel may be girding for a Hezbollah attack from the north, or possibly for a direct attack by Iran itself. According to Debkafile, there has been unusually heavy Israeli military traffic spotted going north. Israel has also announced that its northern airspace will be closed to civilian flights until the end of May. 
As reported by the Washington Times, “Israeli defense officials have told their American and Russian counterparts that if Iranian-backed forces attack Israel from inside Syria, Jerusalem will not hold back from retaliating with direct strikes against Tehran or other targets in Iran.” Iran’s nuclear facilities may well top the target list.