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Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Is Europe Lost?

Is Europe already lost to islam? Bernard Lewis, the world's foremist islamic scholar, thinks so:

Islam could soon be the dominant force in a Europe which, in the name of political correctness, has abdicated the battle for cultural and religious control, Prof. Bernard Lewis, the world-renowned Middle Eastern and Islamic scholar, said on Sunday.

The Muslims “seem to be about to take over Europe,” Lewis said at a special briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post. Asked what this meant for the continent’s Jews, he responded, “The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim.” Soon, he warned, the only pertinent question regarding Europe’s future would be, “Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?” The growing sway of Islam in Europe was of particular concern given the rising support within the Islamic world for extremist and terrorist movements, said Lewis.

Lewis, whose numerous books include the recent What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, would set no timetable for this drastic shift in Europe, instead focusing on the process, which he said would be assisted by “immigration and democracy.” Instead of fighting the threat, he elaborated, Europeans had given up.

“Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their own self-confidence,” he said. “They have no respect for their own culture.” Europeans had “surrendered” on every issue with regard to Islam in a mood of “self-abasement,” “political correctness” and “multi-culturalism,” said Lewis, who was born in London to middle-class Jewish parents but has long lived in the United States.

The threat of extremist Islam goes far beyond Europe, Lewis stressed, turning to the potential impact of Iran going nuclear under its current regime

You surprised? Shouldn't be.


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Monday, January 29, 2007

Death of a Mahdi

In Arabic, "Mahdi" means "Messiah." The words are directly cognate and the second is a Greek attempt at transliteration of the first. People of the region encompassing the Arabian Peninsula and the Fertile Crescent have been looking for one for at least three thousand years.

Of course, there can be only one -- an idea that's lost on muslims.

The real one died on a cross about two thousand years ago.

But that is not the topic of this post. Since Shi'a and Sunni separated following the death of Mohammed, the Shi'a have had (at least) dozens of Mahdi. One died of typhus a few years before Lord Kitchener's army tore his troops apart with machine guns at Omdurman in 1898 (where Winston Churchill won his first fame).

Another died on January 28th, apparently at the hands of Iraqi infantry, supported by US helicopters, tanks, and (most effectively, of course) aircraft.

The fact that the Iraqi Army can dispose of extraneous Mahdi is tesimony to the improvement in their capabilities, but you won't hear that in the mainstream media. There, you'll only hear that an American helicopter was shot down and two Americans were killed -- just as you would have heard from them as they were stabbing the US military in the back during Vietnam.

This also shows that the US and Iraqi governments are making some progress in counterinsurgency, although I was hoping they'd go after Sunni insurgents first, especially with the Shi'ite holiday of Ashura coming up so soon. It sounds as if Iraqi and US forces encountered both, but the Mahdi's army lost most of its fighting strength -- around 600. Good job, boys -- both Iraqi and American


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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Izmud: Squishy Conservatism

Correspondent Izmud left a comment after a long hiatus. I'm glad to see him back. Welcome! He comments:

Izmud scored 22 -- very interesting. I didn't like some of the choices.

He refers to this post. I have to admit that I didn't like some of the choices either, although I scored a 35 (the higher the score, the more conservative the participant.) I suspect Izmud is much further up the scale, naturally inclined toward a 45 (40 is the max), which puts him only five points behind Hitler.

Nonetheless, his published score puts him in line between Colin Powell and Bush XLI: a squishy-soft, fence-sitting "moderate." You know the type: right between "don't kill too many of the enemy when we go to war" and "let's raise taxes more than any Democrat in history" after promising "no new taxes."

Let's build a political quiz of our own, with real choices like:

"Which better describes your attitude toward foreign policy:"
A _ Fascist jackbooted Amerikkka deserved 9/11
B - Kill them all; let God sort them out

My answer is "B"


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Monday, January 08, 2007

Iraq's Natural State

Tech Central Station today features an excellent summary of a brilliant pamphlet and expands its discussion to include implications for our venture in Iraq. The book is The Natural State: The Political Economy of Non-Development (available as a .pdf). The article is "Iraq's Natural State," by Arnold Kling.

The Natural State delineates three types of societies:

Primitive orders are small bands of hunter-gatherers.... Limited-access orders are societies that provide meaningful political and economic rights only to narrow elites. Open-access orders are capitalist democracies that give political and economic rights to most citizens. [The pamphlet's authors] argue that limited-access orders are the "natural state:" they are stable, they resist economic progress, and they only rarely make the transition to open-access orders.

The pamphlet goes on to describe the characteristics of the limited access orders that make up the bulk of world governments:

The limited access order is a social equilibrium. The equilibria share common characteristics:

1) Control of violence through elite privileges.

2) Limits on access to trade.

3) Relatively strong property right protection for elites and relatively weak property right protection for non-elites. To the extent a natural state is characterized by the rule of law, it is for elites.

4) Restrictions on entry into and exit from economic, political, religious, educational, and military organizations.

The central feature of the transition is the development of impersonal exchange among elites. Personal exchange involves a personal, on-going relationship between the exchange parties so that repeated dealings can be a central aspect of exchange enforcement. If one party cheats another, they risk losing the relationship and the benefits it implies. The necessity for repeated interaction limits the range of exchanges of any one individual.

In contrast, impersonal exchange involves parties without long-term personal relationships who may make a single exchange. Impersonal exchange requires that the parties to the exchange be confident enough that their rights and obligations will be secure despite the absence of repeated dealings. Impersonal exchange therefore requires some form of third-party enforcement.

The pamphlet argues that there are three conditions necessary for a limited-access order to transition to an open-access society:

1. The rule of law for controlling elites

2. Perpetual life for basic social institutions (i.e., not requiring just personal relations between their leaders to remain functioning)

3. Civilian control of the military

Ultimately, institutions are held together by personal, family, or tribal loyalty. Open-order societies are impossible under such structures. The pamphlet also states that the natural alternative to the limited-access order is chaos (and, as our founding fathers understood, ultimately greater tyrrany).

Implications for Iraq. Kline states:

Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a limited-access order, or "natural state." NWW claim that such states resist the change to open-access orders. They resist our attempts to stimulate economic development, because true economic development requires fair competition, which threatens the privileges that are the stabilizing element in limited-access orders. Although NWW do not discuss "nation-building," it seems reasonable to infer that they would take an equally dim view of that notion.

Iraq was never on the "doorstep" of becoming an open-access order. The major factions are not willing to give up their weapons and concede military power to a central coalition. There are no perpetual-lived organizations that can make long-term contractual commitments. There is not even a willingness among factions to grant one another rights under the rule of law.

Accordingly, I would say that there is no chance that the United States will succeed in its objective of establishing an open-access order in Iraq. The best we can hope to do is restore Iraq to a natural state, meaning a limited-access order where rights and power are exclusive to certain elites, who will be subject neither to economic nor political competition as we know it.

For a limited-access order to emerge, the leaders of each major faction in Iraq must have a stake in peace. For each leader, that means having enough exclusive economic and political rights to feel that he has more to lose than to gain by resorting to violence.

If we want to set up a limited-access order, then we have to determine which factions we want to have in the governing coalition, and we must give each of them something of value in return for maintaining peace. To put it crudely (so to speak), one could imagine giving each major party in a coalition government control over a particular set of oil wells. Factions that we do not want in the coalition (Al Qaeda in Iraq, for example) would have to be hunted down and killed. Factions that receive an allocation of oil wells but continue to engage in violence would have to be declared outlaws and deprived of personal security, with their oil resources confiscated and redistributed to other factions.

Daunting prospects, but accurate I think. Iraq ruled by a strong oligarchy well-disposed toward us better than Iraq's growing chaos,


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Friday, January 05, 2007

A Political Quiz

Via Instapundit, here's a neat little quiz to determine your "political quotient." Zero (approproately enough) equals extreme leftist veiws like Jesse Jackson's. The highest score (40) puts you in company with Ronald Reagan. I scored a 35, despite broad agreement with liberal friends like Chefjef on many issues.

What's your score?


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First Amendment, Smurst Amendment...

An indication of what our incoming congressional majority thinks of the right to free speech, via Pajamas Media:

Rep. John Conyers [Democrat - Michiganistan] sponsors HR 288 which “condemn[s] bigotry and religious intolerance, and recogniz[es] that holy books of every religion should be treated with dignity and respect.” Baron Bodissey calls it “a CAIR-sponsored Trojan horse, ready to be rolled through the gates into the First Amendment.”

Pelosi's agenda: Let's make the whole nation a bit more like the UC Berkeley campus. Let's see if it passes.


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Thursday, January 04, 2007

In Holland, Christianity is Dead...Long Live Christianity!

Via the Weekly Standard, a very encouraging report from the Netherlands -- no longer a nether land for Christian worship:

God is back in Europe's most notoriously liberal country. Or rather: The Dutch are moving back to God. It seems an implausible hypothesis. After all, Europe was supposed to have entered the realm of post-Christianity, to use C.S. Lewis's term--a state of eternal unbelief from which there is no return. And yet, [authors of a recent study] claim, the Dutch are turning back. Take the almost unnoticed reintroduction of crucifixes and other religious artifacts into the classrooms of Catholic schools throughout the country. Years of gradual but seemingly unstoppable secularization have given way to a reaffirmation of old religious identities.

The reason the Christian population of Holland has stopped shrinking and is likely to avoid further decline is a phenomenon that until now has been largely overlooked by commentators on Dutch politics and society: Christian immigration. Analysts usually focus on the one million Muslim immigrants and their offspring who have made the Netherlands their home since the early 1950s. But in the past decade, Muslim immigration has been overtaken by a larger stream of immigrants, namely Christians from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe. An SCP estimate puts the number of Christian immigrants in Holland at around 700,000 -- and rising fast. Recent immigration reports suggest that for every new Muslim moving to Holland, there are at least two new Christian immigrants.

Excellent news all around. Let's hope this phenomenon extends all across the Decadent Old Man. This sort of demographic pressure will change the face of Europe -- for the better -- and perhaps prevent a war with islam for its possession (or at least help us win that war...)


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The First Hundred Hours...

...begins today. We will see what the new Congress holds for us. Will the uni-partisan hundred-hour sequestration produce a responsible and ambitious legislative agenda that will help bridge partisan divides, or will it try to usher in a tribute to Haight-Ashbury hippy culture native to its leader, Nancy Pelosi (which translates as "water pipe" in idiomatic Italian). Some of the initiatives sound reasonable: a reputed moratorium on pork barrel bill riders and severe curtailment of lobbyist perks. Much of the rest remains murky, and probably deliberately so, since it may not play well in Peoria. Or across the aisles.

Again, these first few weeks and months of the 110th Congress will give us a chance to see whether the Democrats will attempt to govern responsibly (which for them means "business as usual in Washington") or will attempt to play to their radicalized base (where Speaker Pelosi claims her roots).

Much of their program is to be revealed today and tomorrow. Those of us disgusted with both parties will watch carefully to see whether Iperial Government continues its perk-filled romp, the pot-head left attempts to usher in Hippy Heaven in the halls of the Capitol, or there will be some genuine effort to change things for the good. I honestly expect some combination of the three.

I do not fear what I know is coming from the left in foreign policy: leftist internationalism, appeasement, and defeat in Iraq. Every sign of weakness we show now only hastens and makes worse the war we will have to fight later. Hastening it is not necessarily a bad thing, however. Nothing the Democrats can do, short of winning the war we are already fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, can prevent the war that is to come. By hastening it, they may even reduce the severity of the measures necessary to win it. In any case, their inevitable wavering and appeasement will certainly encourage our eneies -- perhaps making them take us for granted, as did Germany and Japan in WW II. Let's take the long view and hope so.


Update 4 Jan
: I t appears they've gotten off to a decent start, by booting Rep WIlliam "Frosty" Jeferson off the House Ways and Means Committee by an ooverwhelming majority, after a debate in which only speaker Pelosi publically defended his removal. Several members of the Democratic Black Caucus objected that Poleosi was acting like an "empress," but she held her ground and defended the move. This bodes well. I'm no fan of Pelosi's, but this is an encouraging sign and represents a much more neutral stance than I expected from the incoming Congress.

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