Category Archives: Human Rights

human rights

Commentary—Protecting Our Civil Rights — The New Fight Against ISIS and Terrorism

Terror attacks are increasing in intensity and frequency, and it has become obvious that we must increase the invasiveness of our techniques in combating those elements. That, in turn, raises the issues of protecting our civil rights, which might be encroached upon in the process of counterterrorism activity. How we interdict violent terroristic attacks here and abroad and how we simultaneously protect our civil rights is not an easy task, but neither is it impossible. To understand the necessity of revisiting the methods of interdiction and its effects, it becomes important that we have some background in understanding the present nature of terrorism as it has evolved in recent times and as we shortly move into 2018. At the outset in our discussion we must ignore any slippery slope analysis. It does not enhance the depth of the discussion nor advance any meaningful analysis.

We should begin in June 2014. The ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. By that summer, the Islamic State’s territory covered about a third of Iraq and between a quarter and a third of Syria. It has been estimated that ISIS had become the richest terrorist organization in the world. In response to ISIS’s overwhelming territorial capture, and within months, an American-led international coalition was fashioned to attack ISIS. Not surprising, one year later (September 2015), Russia began its military intervention in Syria, initially to prevent the collapse of the Syrian regime and later to support the regime in fighting not only ISIS but other rebel organizations, referred to as “terrorist organizations”. To expand its sphere of influence, Russia has entered into an agreement for air support rights with Egypt.

The ISIS crises came to an head in early 2015, with the commencement of an intense and non-stop military campaign for the next two and half years, up to the time of writing this Commentary ( early December, 2017). It can be said, on the ground the Islamic State no longer exits. Lost are most of its captured territory including the historic cities of Mosul and Raqqa including those areas along the Euphrates River in both Iraq and Syria. It would, however, be a terrible mistake to say we have defeated ISIS and all is well. It is not.

We have recaptured land seized by ISIS, but ISIS, as a terrorist organization (along with its immense wealth), has not been defeated. It remains a real, continuing and enormous danger to our wellbeing. ISIS motivated and inspired attacks here, at home and abroad, will continue, and if history is any judge, they will escalate in intensity and scope with the demise of its territorial loss, and as thousands of their fighters who already have returned will return to their homes with their hatred intact. In addition, there is no longer the question some of those fighters will join or rejoin with some faction of a-Qaeda from which they had initially belonged. As reported, it has already shown its ability to easily function in far-flung places, while openly conscripting new and trained fighters in areas marked by political, social neglect or oppression.

As I have written in the past, our civil rights, protected both at home and abroad, is the cornerstone of our democracy and individual well-being. They must be protected but cannot be used to lesson our ability to defend ourselves and thus be an avenue thru which we are attacked. It is equally essential we not hamper our ability to anticipate and defend against the enemy. ISIS. Not Islam. Not those “dudes”. Not those who create fake shadow targets thru the internet.

There is a subtle but elusive bond and trust between our national government and the population. It is that bond and the trust that has been created that protects our democracy. We must have faith in our government. And in return our government must be “of the people and for the people.” Any concept of a “big brother” government must be rejected; an idea that we merely cede our rights in return for protection must be rejected. Without ceding self to an authority, we at the same moment, must have in place a robust form of law enforcement that protects that fragile structure against internal and external threats. At this juncture it is essential that we have an enhanced counterterrorism mechanism in place, but as I will discuss below, with a respected independent national oversight authority as a counterbalance. Not the Attorney General appointed by a President, not individual state legislatures, not ad hoc civilian groups created for particular contentious events. We must create a congressionally constructed legal body, independent of any presidential control that is funded and answers only to a joint bipartisan congressional committee, with neither political party having a deciding vote.

We have moved far from the time when we made hard distinctions between domestic and international forms of terrorism. The line between legitimate forms of dissent and terrorism is not as ambiguous as in the past. We have come to a time when it is essential that we employ enhanced law enforcement tools to increase our ability to interdict a terrorist before (s)he attacks. Not after the attack. Concurringly, during any ongoing investigation, it is essential that there be in place a process for the civil rights protection for the target. We are long past the time of Hoover’s FBI.

As noted above, with the creation of an independent body of trained lawyers and investigators who will have the appropriate “standing” (notwithstanding not having been retained by the target of any investigation) to appear before a federal court on behalf of these person, and to maintain the necessary secrets of any enquiry will any hearing will take place in camera. The effect is that those persons or entities under scrutiny will then have legal representation without being notified of any ongoing probe. The aim of this approach is that with the risk of terrorist attacks increasing,(yesterday at Times Square in New York City) we require our national defense, to be more robust and intrusive in our terrorist investigation, and that might further encroach upon civil rights. In order to minimize that intrusion and to be as certain as possible that whatever invasive procedure is permitted by court order, there must be evidence that underscores the seriousness of the potential threat and necessitates the need for the enhanced counterterrorism techniques requested. For that we need something more than the Government’s mere unilateral claim and procedural request to a court.

What becomes vital in our democracy is an independent analysis and review of the government’s request. This is accomplished by the creation of an autonomous group of attorneys who would appear before the appropriate court and act on behalf of the targets without the target’s knowledge. A safeguard is thereby created to protect against the government’s potential overreaching and violating the targets civil rights but also to provide the government with the appropriate, more intrusive tools to counteract a potential attack.

Aside from the lone copycat who more often than not flies-under-the-radar, terrorism on a larger scale is becoming more sophisticated and complicated in method and structure. It is essential that we refine and improve our methods of investigation or we will lose in that battle.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

Commentary—Eurabia Revisited: Muslim Surge – Multi-Ethnic vs. Multicultural Society

In 2005, Tony Blankley, a conservative editor at the Washington Times, not the Washington Post, wrote a slim book that caused people to yell: Foul! Discriminatory! Inflammatory! I do not remember if he was a participant on the Sunday morning Mclaughlin Report at the time but I do remember his slight English accent and gracious manner. His political position was very much cutting edge on the far right side of the political spectrum. His book was described as “shocking”. He argued that it was the West’s last chance at survival because the European continent was to become Eurabia.   He argued that the European continent would be overwhelmed by militant Islam, which would pose a greater threat to the United States than Nazi Germany. This, he argued, was the West’s last chance at survival. This was in 2005.

That was eleven years ago. We had lived thru the September 11 2001 attacks –a series of four coordinate attacks by an Islamic terrorist group that killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 and caused billions in property damage. Five years prior to the Blankley book, a book published in the Netherlands had claimed that multiculturalism had failed in that country. That author was viciously attacked, called a racist and bigot. It was against this background and with the then surge of Muslims into Europe, that Mr. Blankley envisioned a continent where Muslims outnumber non-Muslims.

What has happened in Europe? This is 2016, and we will take count in 5 days of the 9/11 attack. Is there a Eurabia? Have the Muslims assumed the mantel of ownership in Europe? Clearly the answer is “no” but with a very large warning asterisk. When one meshes a fine article by Abigail Esman for the IPT News and the work of Conrad Hackett, a demographer focusing on religion at Pew Research Center, we see the formation of a very disturbing trend on the European Continent and England. I had a colleague who was fond of saying: Yes, I have a phobia, but that doesn’t mean someone is not trying to kill me.

Phobia based reasoning, people claim, is not a rational method for discourse, but there is a factual trend unfolding before us that is more than disturbing for the present and the future. Let me explain.

In Britain, Poles constitute the largest number of foreign-born residents, and the Brexit referendum to leave the European Union has unleashed a wave of violent xenophobia. But it is the Muslim population in Western Europe and Great Britain that has caused the greatest amount of fear.

In France, Belgium, Germany, the UK and Netherlands there is mounting concern because of the ever increasing Muslim population. Germany and France have the greatest number of Muslims. In approximate numbers, Germany has 4.8 million Muslims or about 5.8 percent of its population. Germany has roughly the same number but constituting 7.5 percent of its population. The UK has 3 million Muslims or 4.8 percent of its population. Last, the Netherlands has only 1 million Muslims but 6 percent of its population.

When viewed as a whole, Europe’s total Muslim population has been increasing steadily and consistently from 4 percent in 1990 to 6% in 2010, and should reach well above 8 percent, because of the extreme violence now in play in the mid-East and the rush of immigration fleeing to Europe. In 2015 alone the number of refugees escaping to Europe pushed to an astounding 1.3 Million people. While in the small and progressive nation, Denmark, the more than 36,000 mostly Muslim asylums seekers who had arrived in the last year has created a backlash. Bo Lidegaard, a prominent Danish historian, as reported in the New York Times, voiced the issue most profoundly:” we are a multi-ethnic society. We are not and should never become a multicultural society.”

These numbers are a haze to digest. But important as they are, they create a troubling picture for the future. The Muslims who have endured extreme hardship and arrive in Europe are younger than all other people in Europe, and thus it is expected they will reproduce at a greater rate than their older European neighbors. In 2011, it was predicted that the world Muslim population will grow twice as fast as non-Muslim s over the next 20 years. They have the highest fertility rate well above replacement levels and, thus, become the fastest growing religion worldwide.

Within the last 15 months I have felt the increased tension while visiting in the UK and France. Taxi drivers, without request, are indicating which streets and cafés were bombed; there is a palpable tension and one feels the quiet sense of possible danger. Since my visit in January of 2015 to London, with a cancelled trip to France because of the bombings, over 275 have been killed at the hands of Islamic terrorists. The youth are racializing and communities across Europe are in the midst of heated discussion regarding the strict control of immigration, reviewing counterterrorism strategies, increased surveillance and tighter control of currency exchange that have provided clandestine help to the potential terrorist.

I have written previously of much needed programs to coordinate intelligence gathering and data within EU partners. And that has come to fruition. Most important, beside the regularly scheduled meetings of the EU partners which I have called for is the present sharing of databases pinpointing not just groups but individuals whose potential for terrorism is demonstrable.

With the intensity of the data and intelligence sharing process we are faced with the concerns for individual privacy and the ability to have sufficient resources to conduct the most crucial aspects of counterterrorism intrusion. There is also the necessity to appreciate the macro picture –considering the effect on the general well-being of the European population with the arrival of thousands of fleeing refugees. “What now that that Europe is close to its limit on accepting refugees,” EU President Donald Tusk (the former president of Poland) said on Sunday, 4 September, as he urged the international community to do more to step up resettlement of those seeking refuge.

Taking the problem one set further, a major consideration in Ms. Esman’s article is how to combat/prevent radicalizing of the non-terrorist persons within the prison populations by the terrorist in the next cell. Equally important in the total fight against terrorism is the aggressive surveillance of those places that advertise themselves as cultural or religious centers but serve yet another purpose. Too many years ago, Steve Emerson of IPT came to my home and showed Yigal Carmon (who was then the advisor to the PM of Israel and now the founder and president of MEMRI) and me the first cut of a documentary he produced that was to be shown on PBS-Television: “A Jihad in America”. You were taken—with the use of hidden cameras– into mosques across America that were openly utilized as recruiting and training grounds for future terrorists. I remember clearly when the video print came to an end, I sat silent and stunned. I could only mutter: Please play it again. I watched it three times before I was able to discuss its content. Today, I would not be shocked.

Looking at Europe from afar, from the safety of my home, what I see is in some quarters is a culture that evokes hate and fear. There is so much more fear in Europe and the UK than in the United States. And the reason is obvious. 9/11 has become a memory to most of us in this Country—almost a symbol with little or no personal pain; the terrorist attacks in Europe are in the present, unrelenting, personal and with no understanding why the locations or the persons chosen to be attacked are determined—other than, in some instances, mere convenience. There is no place to hide. And so the rapid influx into Europe, first gradual and now in torrents, of Muslims bringing their traditions, culture and religion create a sense of being overwhelmed.

There is no Eurabia today and maybe not tomorrow, but there will be a massive change in the complexity of Europe’s character in our lifetime as the flow of large numbers of people rush from the Mid- East to Europe. Some to merely escape violence and they will be content to find peace anywhere. There will be some who will seek to impose their lifestyle on their host nation—and there will be conflict; there will be some who come not to escape violence but to vent through violence their religious hatred toward their host.

It is unfortunate, but the terrorists will, in the short run, outpace their pursuers. It is unfortunate, in the macro world, that the process thru which these refugees must be processed and their acceptance into our community will require enhanced surveillance. This will require the surrender of some of those civil rights we cherish until we find a method that truly balances those rights with providing for our individual safety. Pragmatically that is possible. There is always a price – a price for living in an open multi-cultural society.

Blankley was right. This is the West’s last chance to maintain its heritage—but only if we do deal humanely with those who flee from violence. In the process of recognition we must accept the concepts of religious freedom and deal simultaneously and pragmatically with terrorism –in one integrated bundle. One must understand that these are not separate issues; each forms an important part of the mosaic that will keep the continent European and embracing. France cannot be only for the French and Muslims cannot superimpose their will on the French –their culture or heritage. The EU must be in lock-step, united in one common goal. We, in the United States, learned that lesson when 13 very independent states formed one union, no physical barriers, accepting of diverse religions, no competing tariffs, and one nation-wide set of legal principals — all embedded in what became our Constitution.

Richard Allan

The Editor

 

Commentary–the Fate of Luca

On a day that we have been introduced to Luca—you don’t know Luca? The New York Times tells us that we have been provided with a “surprising specific genetic portrait of the ancestor of all living things…” Its name is Luca. Luca, the living thing that started the ball rolling until we stand tall on two hind legs throwing bombs at each other. That news stopped me dead in my tracts. Not that I am in any fashion a science buff, but that fact –Luca–examined by itself –is startling when juxtaposed to the chaos surrounding us at all levels today.

We are now learning how we started out on this planet-earth at the same moment we are in the process of self-destroying our very being. It is not some massive volcano whose fumes are blocking the sun; nor is it an alien planet that will slam into us and take us back to the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Nineteen are killed and twenty-nine are injured by a man wielding a knife, not at some military installation, but a facility for the disabled In a Tokyo suburb. Long from the center of Paris, a terrorist attacks a village catholic church, takes hostages and kills a priest. And half-way round the world the President of Turkey is moving further and faster in destroying the democratic fiber of his country in the name of restoring order. If that Country were not vital in the multiple wars in Syria and against ISIS, I doubt if we would tolerate his moving the clock back in a part of the world that should be moving forward. This democratically elected president has begun a witch-hunt, a systematic campaign of violence against those who hold a different view from his own. Not only has he arrested thousands accused of having a connection, however tenuous, to the conspiracy to overthrow his non-democratic regime, but he has fired tens of thousands of teachers, bankers police officers, soldiers and others. Now his vile conduct is directed against journalists for possible criminal conduct allegations. That could only mean: to curtail their writing the truth.

Turkey, under his autocratic leadership has moved to crack down on the freedom of expression, and to do that one announces a state of emergency for however long one wants to reign in the usual civil rights of citizens. When one announces a state of emergency one provides an unbound hand to a handpicked government to create whatever legislation its autocratic leader demands. There is no oversight and there is no democracy. This is Turkey today. And more than likely this is Turkey for tomorrow because of its linchpin status in the Mid-East.

Less than ten days ago a young man stormed through a train outside of Wurzburg, Germany. Crying “Allahu Akbar,” (God is greatest) he brandished an axe high into the air, then slashed at the men and women seated around him. Within minutes, the car,” looked like a slaughterhouse.” Then he fled. In a 2007 report from the Council on Foreign Relations it was noted that “security professionals see trains as some of the likeliest targets.”

And to close the circle, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas has issued a formal request asking his neighboring Arab states to help in the preparation of a lawsuit against the UK over the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which established Britain’s support for a “national home for the Jewish people”. His goal is simple and direct: to delegitimize the State of Israel.

To discuss the possible success of such a move is wasted energy, but it does underscore the hypocrisy of Abbas and those around him who speak for “freedom” and the brutality of those he so violently opposes. His call for the callous attacks on civilians or those teens sleeping in their beds at night is beyond imagination. Beyond imagination because silently, unheard, he wishes the people and, in particular, the health workers of Israel good health and good hunting in their war against cancer. In recent years and until this past week, Omar, Abbas’ brother, traveled not to Iran, not to Syria, not to Egypt, not to the Saudis, not to any other Arab country in the Mid-East, but he traveled on a regular basis to the enemy of his people and his country—Israel. For medical treatment that was never denied to him.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

Appeasement–It Never Works

Two events, not seemingly connected, suddenly brought clarity in the heated discussion that followed the horrendous attacks in Paris. I shall try to keep it simple.

The ISIS attack earlier this year in January targeted individuals associated with a political magazine and people shopping in a Jewish supermarket. The targets were symbols unmistakably identified: Those who were anti-Islam and those who were Jews. The attacks this month were far more treacherous and repugnant: at the heart of the citizens of France. Ordinary people, not symbols; people who were indiscriminately chosen to die merely because they were congregating in large numbers, in one place and so easily murdered.

When a person enlists or is drafted into an army during a war, there is the “possibility” they will be killed if they go into a conflict area. When a person enlists into the ranks of ISIS, there is the “likelihood” that they will be ordered to wrap a bomb around their bodies and die. There is an enormous difference in the mentality and focus of each of these warriors. One is a soldier, the other is a terrorist. ISIS is many times larger and stronger than al Qaida and its focus is more vast and horrific. They are barbaric.

To understand the political climate of appeasement in Europe today, and not often discussed, one need only exam EU (European Union). Founded in 1948, in the aftermath of World War II, it has as its mission the guarantee of peace, stability and economic cooperation in Europe. Today, the EU membership has risen to include 28 European countries. The EU does not recognize the annexations of territories by several world governments. And although it’s  barely been heard in the discussions in the aftershock of the Paris attacks, its members choose to demand special labeling of products produced from only one region in the world—products from the Golan Heights and the West Bank—Israeli products.

The reason is clear: it is the EU’s hope that the world would boycott products from Israel. All in the aim of forcing the State of Israel to choose between facing an economic boycott and a possible financial crises or bending to the will of the Islamic world. A somewhat round about way of saying: look what we’re doing for you so please keep your terrorist at home. Appeasement did not work to stop WWII and will not stop ISIS.

The EU’s act is so clearly overt that it reminded me of Hitler directing that we should identify the Jews to isolate them from the rest of the German community and then the world by wearing the Star of David on their clothing. The EU order is no different. Label a person, label a product–to discriminate.

In addition, if one were to look at the internal social structure–the voices of the people in England, France and Germany, one identifies the rising violent voice of anti-Semitism –anti Israel. Yet being anti-Israel has not helped the following nations from attack: Academia in England is as anti-Israel as one can get, and still they haven’t secured a safety net from the Islamic terrorist. Hate crimes against London’s Jewish minority have surged over the last 12 months with an increase of 93.4%, according to figures from the Metropolitan police. In the 12 months from July 2014, police recorded 499 anti-Semitic crimes in London compared with 258 in the same period the preceding year.

In Germany Scrawling swastikas on synagogues, Jew-baiting during demonstrations, desecration: Seventy-five years after the Holocaust, hatred against Jews is taking place openly in Germany, even in schools. The number of crimes linked to anti-Semitism in Germany increased dramatically over the past year. While 788 cases were registered in 2013, there were 864 cases registered in 2014 a 10 percent increase. The most famous department store in Germany announced its agreement to labeling products produced from Israel.

In Rome, more than 70 disturbing hate messages were scrawled with black and red paint on Jewish businesses and throughout the so-called Jewish Ghetto around the city’s main synagogue. Phrases like “Anne Frank Was A Liar,” “Dirty Jews,” “Jews your end is near,” and “Israel executioner” were written in spray paint.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister came out strongly in support of the EU’s boycott attempting to link the issues in Israel with the ISIS attack in France. And in the United States, the American Anthropological Society (an academic institution), in what can only be described as an infamous vote, resoundingly approved a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a vote of 1040-136. We can only wonder how we are to define the word “academic” in the future?

Given the nature of ISIS, there is no method to reach a system of negotiations nor to employ appeasement strategy. ISIS is a cancer that has metastasized, and the mere snipping at its surface does not impede its growth. Isis is an amorphous enemy state, not a terrorist cell. It has enormous capability and controls large swaths of territory.  It has supreme success in recruitment among the young, and therein lays a great deal of its strength. And yet in France, with the strictest security apparatus in place, which would make the ACLU cringe in despair, its attack was not prevented.

To be Anti-sematic/anti-Israel is not sufficient to fend off an ISIS attack and hatred. To attempt to financially cripple Israel is not sufficient to appease ISIS. There is no appeasement and, therefore, we cannot mince words in describing, without political correctness, those who support the idea that the world would be better off without those—whomever “those” might be who do not follow the ISIS dogma.

In the past few days, at a soccer stadium in Turkey, as the announcer asked for a moment of silence for those who had died in the Paris assault, there were those who booed and chanted “Allahu Akbar” –an Islamic phrase meaning “God is Great”, the very words chanted by those who attacked the innocent people of Paris with their guns and vest bombs. In addition, politeness is no longer an acceptable method in dealing with those who passively support this reign of terror.

One last thought: On the world stage, the more the United States waffles, hesitates and ignores its own “lines drawn in the sand”, the weaker we become and not only endanger our own security but lose the moral leadership in the world. We need straight talk and affirmative action. We can no longer afford to do anything less.

Appeasement, in whatever form, to whoever offered, invites greater violence not peace.

Richard Allan
The Editor

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[1] The Kashmir region is defined by the international community as a disputed territory. Tibet was occupied by the Chinese army in 1958 and unilaterally annexed by Beijing.  Morocco invaded the Western Sahara region and unilaterally annexed it. The Turkish army invaded Northern Cyprus, expelled hundreds of thousands of Greek speakers, and established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula

My Fear and My Right—Gun Control

When our first child was very young, my parents offered us a weekend away. We grabbed it and ran. During a long walk, somewhere in the Catskill Mountains, near our hotel, we heard guns being discharged. Nearby, we learned there was a skeet shooting school and range. That is when I held a gun for the first time and loved it.

Years later, when we had purchased a large tract of land in the middle of nowhere, and my now grown son suggested we needed to get a gun in case there were wild animals on or near where we were to build our country home. The two of us ended up at a gun range in, of all places, lower Manhattan in the basement of some industrial building. This time we used handguns. I loved it. Not as much fun as shooting skeets and more difficult to get the center of the target, which in this underground shooting facility was a silhouette of a human being. And some years ago at the invitation of the Defense Department, I was invited to view and handle advanced weapons at the army’s Fort Dix.

We never built on that land, but I was informed very early on by my wife and daughter that we would never have a gun in our home…country or otherwise. That has held true to this day.

Do I fear violence in the streets today? Yes. Have I felt violence in years gone by? Yes. We once drove across the United States, some four decades ago, and there were some strange towns along the way that had me wishing that I had some sort of gun in the car. The couple who raised my wife and traveled in their rig, crossing the United States for many years, always had a shotgun in their traveling home.

For many years I have written on this blog and other sites about security, violence and terrorism and I live in Manhattan. Do I need a gun for protection? Clearly not. If I lived in Ridgefield, Conn (picking that town as the first name that came into my mind) would I own a gun? No.

Would I love to go skeet shooting? Yes. Would it be better if I owned my own gun, fitted to my physical needs? Yes. Do I NEED a gun in my home? No.  Why should I have a gun in my home, as potentially dangerous as it is, to worry about its safekeeping and the outside possibility that it might be used in anger or stupidly, or an unwise manner without the intention of harming a person?  Lingering fear or, as some would plead my Second Amendment right. To both: Nonsense.

Taking my grandson to school across town, shouldn’t I be armed if some person decides that his school, for whatever reason, needs to be punished and has come armed as I walk him thru its front door? So I have done some skeet shooting, so I am trained in the use of my gun, but has my psyche been trained or does it have the capacity for this type of confrontation? Absolutely not. You have no idea how you will react until you have, in fact, been confronted by this type of violent conduct. A long time ago, when I decided with a neighbor to learn karate in a  four story walk up in Chinatown, the instructor in a  thick accent said to me: I can make you black belt here (pointing to his own head), but  I don’t know if I can make you black belt there (pointing to my heart). How very true.

After every senseless, retched, horrendous killing there are too many who continue to say: This is not the time to talk about gun control, this is a time to mourn. Ok, we have mourned over and over but the talking has neither started nor been reciprocal on this issue.  One side talks and the other side points to the Second Amendment. That is not a discussion under any circumstances. That is stalling! Reckless stalling.

I have a colleague at my law school that has a special spin on most everything. Let’s look at the Second Amendment, he would say: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment has most recently been interpreted to grant the right of gun ownership to individuals for purposes that include “self-defense”.

If I construe the Constitution in its strict form, as would Justice Scalia, then according to my colleague you would look at the intentions of the framers back at the time of adoption of the Amendment. I have no problem with that, I then give the Tea Party and NRA—muskets not assault rifles or high density bullet magazines.

There are those who keep saying that guns do not kill people, it’s “the mentally ill”, — the mentally ill out there that are causing all “the problems.” Those ‘excusers’ are people living in an echo chamber of the own voice, repeating over and over their self-serving mantras while others are dying. They don’t see the dying and they don’t hear the cries of desperation. Death from a bullet in the United States causes the loss of more lives than other top causes of death: Alcoholism, Leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and hypertension. There are more guns owned in the United States than any other country and we beat out Yemen where there is an insurrection.

Guns are used in homicides in this country more than any other country in the entire world. Guns are Americans choice of weapon. What more do you need to say? What more hard information is necessary?

We are not going to change, modify or rid ourselves of the Second Amendment. It is here to stay. And if attempted it would take years to modify. As my wife would say: “deal with it”.

Gun control does not violate the Second Amendment. We can say: who can own a gun and not violate the Constitution. We can say that some guns and bullet capacity go beyond your proven right to defend yourself. You have an obligation, in some jurisdictions, to prove you need a gun for “self-defense,” not that you merely “want” a gun in your home or pickup truck. If there is no need to protect yourself from whatever is out there or some identified person, why do you need a gun? Simple answer is:  I want to hunt. Fine reason, but you don’t need an assault rifle or a magazine full of bullets to hunt a deer or rabbit.

Ben Carson commenting on the mass murders said: ‘I Would Not Just Stand There and Let Him Shoot Me’ “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him.'” Ok Doctor, you first! Trump suggested overturning gun-free zones and said civilians with guns could have stopped the mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. I am well aware that Mr. Trump cannot see too far from the top of Trump Tower, but hasn’t he learned that we ride in cars and not stagecoaches? We are not a nation of gunslingers and mud streets. We demand voter ID law to deter fraud. We demand a driver’s license before you are permitted to get behind the wheel of an automobile. We check your ID before we sell you a pack of cigarettes or pour your drink at your local bar, and you also need a prescription from a doctor before the druggist will give you that controlled substance prescription. Why not the same demands from the owner of a gun? The mother of the troubled son–-and she knew he had problems–who went on the shooting carnage at a community college in Oregon, said: “I keep two mags in my Glock case. And the ARs & AKs all have loaded mags. No one will be dropping by my house uninvited without acknowledgement.” And took jabs at “lame states” that imposed limits on keeping loaded firearms in the home. There were 14 firearms and spare ammunition magazines in her home as her son, the murder, had at least six guns with him when he entered the classroom shooting. Whom was she expecting “uninvited,” an entire gang of local thugs to steel her brownie mix? How many guns can she shoot at one time and reload?

Enough! What if the head of the NRA was shot with an assault rifle by a parent of one of those children who was murdered in their classroom? What if those members of Congress who are most vocal about the freedom of owning a gun were shot as they left Capitol Hill by a person who disliked politicians? You would hear howls for the need, not for more guns for our so-called mass “defense”, but against the flooding of the gun markets to those who have had no training with guns or should not for a multiple reasons have guns in their possession. For that we need a national gun registry. Until the pig is stabbed you don’t hear it squeal.

I had a friend who was extremely liberal in her political and social policies and who thought we should all share what we owned—“we” being “you” with some wealth—more than hers. But when it came to her own possessions she voted against that incumbent, who after being elected, then reached into her pocketbook.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

South & Central Americas: an Egyptian-Styled “Arab Spring”

All eyes are glued to the Mid-East; to the Iranian deal, to the ominous rumblings in Turkey and sitting here in NYC, I learn that the threat index from ISIS is high in the United States. My eyes are glued for the occasional bombings in France as I plan a trip to Paris, and the arrest of some young persons in the US running off to marry an ISIS member. The focus is almost hypnotic.

On my daily trips to view the hot spots of the world, I have just begun to be aware of red lights faintly flashing in South and Central America with a new short-hand term slowly coming into common use: “South American Spring. ” For those of you who have short memories, let me remind you of the Arab Spring that began with a revolution popular uprising in Egypt that was greeted with roars of approval and the end of tyranny, but which has morphed steadily into deadly and horrific violence and unfathomed levels of despair in the entire Middle East. A three year old child lying dead in the sand along a beach that was to bring him to safety from the violence of his home conveys horror to us in vivid detail.

In South and Central America, fed-up with corruption and harsh dictators and after decades of brutal oppression, those countries had their moment to achieve modern democracy through elections. But something has gone terribly wrong in the process. If we in the United States, we and our government, solely focus our attention to the Middle East, we will find ourselves on the boarder of very troublesome places in our own hemisphere.

The people there are more than merely unhappy notwithstanding their democratic elections. In place of venting their anger in the voting polls, they are moving into the streets. Enough is enough is the focused chant.

Guatemala and Honduras: Frustration over widespread corruption in Guatemala and Honduras may have finally triggered the protests and ire in countries long accustomed to political corruption and dishonor. Guatemala and Honduras have long been linked by their corrupt and bloody past, some of the world’s highest homicide rates, unescapable poverty, gang violence, and organized crime.

Years of living under the thumb of a dictatorial military rule has also left their middle classes fearful of political involvement. Honduras’s attorney general revealed that a network led by the former social security board director defrauded the government of some $120 million from 2010 to 2014. What was rumored became fact.

The Guatemalans have been taking to the streets to demand dramatic change – an unusual sight in Central America, where corruption for years has been the norm. As Sibylla Brodzinsky wrote from Honduras:” It is a scene (seeing hundreds of protesters in the street) that has been repeated every Friday evening for nearly three months, since the government party was linked to a fraud and graft scheme that nearly bled the national health service dry. . at the same time, crushing poverty and rampant violence have driven tens of thousands to attempt to migrate to the United States.” In weekly marches, held on Saturdays in the Guatemalan capital’s Constitution Square, protesters have called for the impeachment or resignation of their President.” Enough is enough” is the constant cry of the population of both countries.

Brazil: In the case of Brazil, whose influence over the region is apparent, what is in issue is the ability of any new government to reinvent itself. The economy in Brazil has dropped precipitously as multibillion dollar corruption scandals have become public knowledge. This information has caused the outcry that erupted in many Brazilian cities during June 2013 and it continues.

Argentina: The Argentinians are calling for change amid their frustration and anger with one of the world’s highest inflation rates, government currency and trade controls and wide-spread corruption allegations that have pierced deep into the Government’s inner political circle.

Mexico: The recourse to massacre, which Mexico seems to either to condone or set an example, sets in motion the extent to which terror has returned to the continent as a means to manage social conflict and political control. Parading fear prevents any collective attempt to practice a new form of political structure.

Venezuela: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who sounds very much like our Donald Trump, has over the past two weeks forcefully deported 1,000 Colombian migrants back to their homeland, producing a flood of harrowing visual images. Their personal belongings seized along with indiscriminate physical violence. Venezuelan National Guardsmen have even taken to spray painting the homes of the soon-to be-banished, marking their dwellings with an “R” for reviewed, or a “D” for demolition.

Nearly 5,000 other Colombians in Venezuela, hoping to rescue some of their dignity and property and avoid the same brutal treatment as their countrymen, have fled preemptively, wading across the shallow river marking the porous border between the two countries with whatever possessions they can carry. To top off the oppression, the Venezuelan opposition leader was sentenced to nearly 14 years of prison. The opposition leader had already been in a military prison for the past 18 months. He was convicted of inciting violence in last year’s antigovernment protests.

We must be as attentive to the ills in the Americas as we are to those in Middle East before they become mirror images. Our media must take a more active role in focusing on the Americas as that part of the world forms our national security network and the Government provides little information. Without the media our unbiased channel of information is at risk.

I have an acquaintance in Guatemala. He wrote to me last week when I enquired of his wellbeing, and he responded: “Everything is fine here, now that we were listened as a nation, we are waiting for justice to do their part.”

I hope his optimism becomes his reality. I have grave doubts.

Richard Allan.
The Editor

Commentary – Looking West

When I look out my window each morning and think of the world, my mind and my eyes instinctively turn eastward. When I think of “the” ocean, I am referring to the Atlantic Ocean, not thirty minutes from my home. My focus on daily history takes me to the map of Eastern Europe and the Mid-East. When I read translations of comments made by diplomats from those regions, the language utilized comports with the customs and usage that I am familiar with. Then reality arrives.

There are two oceans that bookend the United States. Although the Atlantic Ocean is often referred to as “The Pond”, the Pacific not only seems so much larger and further away but on its far side, it is home to over one-half of the world’s population. I know little of that part of the world. And, probably more important, their customs and language are so much more alien than that of the East. We fought a hard and brutal war with Japan and learned of Kamikazi fighter pilots and Harakiri, the ritual suicide. These were not merely unknown and alien concepts to America and the East, but hard to understand and accept as part of daily human behavior in the late 30s and 40s. China is a far off land that has been, for all intent and purposes, closed to us in the United States. Japan was equally so, until the end of WWII. The many nation-states that border the Andaman Sea are far from our daily thoughts or visits, except for the very few of us who travel to their exotic ports of tourism.

And while China lectures the United States that it should “take a responsible attitude, remain committed to neutrality, speak and act cautiously”, its fighter planes, on four separate occurrences in 2014, have intercepted and buzzed unarmed United States surveillance planes over international waters. As predicted, the Chinese authorities first denied the incidents (“totally groundless”), were shown video evidence to the contrary, and then altered their position that Chinese fighter pilots acted rightfully and “professionally”.

China demands, that the U.S. military “should reduce and ultimately stop close-in reconnaissance”, if it hopes to develop meaningful military relations with China. In other words, China is saying, in colloquial terms, to the United States, in an ever shrinking world, get out of my backyard. In diplomatic language, it is demanding the United States change its positions on regional issues such as Taiwan, the South China Sea (where it has continued to forcefully claim it has indisputable sovereignty), and ultimately the entire Asia-Pacific region. One can say with a certain amount of confidence that demands for America to seed the Asia-Pacific zone of interest to China is not going to happen in our life-time.

Regional peace in the Asia-Pacific zone resembles playing the game of pick-up-sticks. Move one stick a little off kilter, and the whole pile of sticks either collapses or moves, and you lose. A Chinese diplomat told United States Ambassador Rice: “We hope the U.S. can promote the healthy development of new China-U.S. military ties with concrete actions.” David M. Lampton, professor and director of China Studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, says an “armed conflict” between China and the United States is “possible” because an “incident” between China and one of American allies like Japan and the Philippines “could drag the United States in”. Japan on several occasions has accused Chinese planes of menacing its aircraft around the Senkaku Islands, the cluster known as the Diaoyu by China. Although it is obvious that both the United States and China are strongly self-motivated to keep their economic and other forms of civil intercourse as frictional-free as possible, those peaceful relations do not foreclose the potential of a military clash between these two giant countries. A peaceful relationship between these two countries is anything but certain.

What is not uncertain, the United States will not idly sit by if Chinese actions affect our strategic interest in that part of the world. For example, Beijing has told Washington, in light of the escalation of friction between Japan and China, that Tokyo “has become a growing liability to Washington’s pursuit of its long term interest” with China. One can only guess what was said behind closed doors when that message was received by the Oval Office.

In September of this year, Tokyo and Washington began preliminary talks of providing Japan with offensive weapons that would permit it the fire power to reach far beyond its borders. The first thought: the North Korean missile system would be an appropriate target. That conversation rattled the military and political sabers of the Chinese ruling party. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said “Asian countries had a right to be concerned about any moves to strengthen Japan’s military considering the country’s past and recent mistaken words and actions about its history.” Note, he did not refer to China’s right but to Asian countries (their claimed zone of interest).

Interesting to note is that Japan has not “fired a shot in anger since its defeat”, almost seventy years ago, at the end of WWII. Equally interesting is the economics of the potential change in Japanese security thinking: It would require that Japan would change from a purely defense military system to the purchasing of billions of dollars of offensive systems and weapons. From whom? The United States.

A yearlong investigation conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee accused the Chinese Government of supporting the most refined form of hacking into networks of companies retained by the Pentagon on at least nineteen occasions. And it doesn’t stop there: Chinese hackers were able to breach computers aboard commercial ships, logistic companies and uploaded malicious software onto an airline computer. There have been five federal indictments of members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on charges of cyber theft.

In another part of this strategic area is South Korea, looking north to a much oppressed, undernourished population and over-fed military compound, who announced it would create a combined army unit with the United States, reportedly tasked with destroying North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction in the event of an all-out conflict. Here, unlike the U.S. relationship with Japan, there will be a mechanized unit led by a US major general to be organized in 2015, as part of intricate preparations for any war between the two Koreas. “It will be the first combined ‘field combat’ unit to carry out wartime operations,” a defense ministry spokesman announced.

North Korea has repeatedly announced that in the event of war on the Korean Peninsula, Japan and South Korea would be “consumed in nuclear flames”. China, North Korea and, most recently, Russia (of all countries ) all seem to fear that installation of an advanced missile-deterrence on South Korean soil would increase the danger of a regional war, despite U.S. repeated guarantees that the system would only be to ward off missile attacks on South Korea. One must superimpose that conflict upon China’s escalating economic and territorial disputes with not only Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines and its capability to attack those nations with its fighter-jet the J-20 and the picture is not very bright. The capabilities of the J-20 fighter have been increased by China’s outright espionage/ stealing of design secrets from the U.S. It is claimed by some experts that China is still believed to be a long way from developing a home grown engine systems for its fighter jets. I would not want to count on that assurance in my relationship with a country whose language and customs have nuances that we have yet to master.

There are too many niceties that mask or mislead us in the true meaning of China’s and North Korea’s pronouncements. I think it is fair to say that we, as a nation, are not familiar, fluent or totally comfortable with the inner intrigues of the worlds of China and North Korea. China, in particular, presents multiple customs, not merely in the streets of their many diverse cities, but in the numerous cantons of a very large nation. Nor are we sufficiently attuned to the inner workings of the governments of China and North Korea. We have seen, often enough, that nothing can be taken at face value in the United States’ dealing with China.

So where are we? Violence flourishes up and down the Andaman Sea and we know little of that. China sits a waiting dragon, North Korea is a rogue nation-state, and we know little of either country. In addition, we have few if any, “informants” of significant importance, to aid us in the higher ranks in either in China or North Korea. So we must all start looking more diligently each morning not merely to the east but also the west.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

P.S. On the front page of today’s New York Times, a bold headline blares: “Europe’s Anti-Semitism Comes Out of Shadows”. The article updates, with distressing and chilling details, what I have previously discussed. We are a long way from the atrocities committed during the Second World War, and those we openly discussed after the end of the war. The issue is today is “whether a subtle societal shift is occurring that has made ant-Jewish remarks or behavior more acceptable.” “’Death to the Jews!’ shouted protesters in Belgium and France. ‘Gas the Jews!’ yelled marchers in Germany. But the list does not end with words, it was only the beginning to be followed by fatal shots in Brussels, the bombing of a Jewish-owned pharmacy in Paris, a synagogue in Germany is firebombed, and a Swedish Jew is beaten with iron pipes.

Only the beginning –and where are all those in the United States, whose kin joined the marches against the violence of Israel in Gaza, marching against the violence of ISIS? Today a Frenchmen was beheaded. Tomorrow, who? And the silence, by those in America whose voices should be in the forefront, is not merely deafing it is outrageous.

The Silence is Deafening

I am becoming weary, listening to the same refrain from the President of the United States, down the ladder of talking heads, whenever an act of terrorism is committed in the name of Allah against others whether they be Muslims or other religious or ethnic groups. We are greeted with the same popular disclaimer: “That’s not Islam.” The same refrain was accompanied with the beheading of an innocent western journalist.

If it is not Islam, what is it? Just another act of “ordinary” violence? Secretary of State Kerry called ISIS’ violence “a cancer” in the Muslim world. But there is, at this writing, a more troubling response to these acts of violence that is not being addressed and is very worrisome.

This summer, during the deadly conflict in GAZA, Muslims marched thru the streets of London and Paris , two cities in which there are admittedly a substantial population of blatantly anti-Semitic citizens who cannot accept Israel’s existence. Their march was to protest loudly and passionately the deaths of Gazans “at the hands of Israel”. Of course, it makes sense to protest the bombing of schools and residential buildings so long as they are not utilized as a shield by the militants. And there the truth is clear, self-evident and unbiased. Rockets buried beneath schools and other public facilities were utilized as a shield Hamas.

A further observation before we proceed. Let’s not try to muddy the waters in an attempt to obfuscate our objectivity by tortured nuances in describing who our enemy is and who is not in this present discussion. There is no “legal” difference in form” between ISIS and Hamas. Hamas does not represent the governing political arm of Gaza and ISIS is not the “representative government” of the land it is occupying. Neither Hamas nor ISIS are a state (by any traditional definition) nor are they “rogue states” (however that term happens to be defined at the moment). They are both terrorist groups with enormous physical and political ability and support for them should be condemned without distinction. The act of silence greeting the deeds of either is indistinguishable and not acceptable. Terrorism is never acceptable.

If the human atrocities, worldwide, that are paraded before us each and every day were sporadic occurrences, I would not have begun this article. The concern is that the reported inhuman attacks are anything but rare, and are increasingly more and more often and barbaric. They demand a universal outrage and a voice of disgust. Not simply by the President of the United States, not simply by the Secretary of State and not simply by an isolated leader in the Muslim world. These lonely sound-bites of outrage have led me to the sudden realization that there is a strange and ominous silence that surrounds me, especially in the United States.

The barbaric beheadings, the parading of severed heads by children and the mass murder of innocent civilians has produced a deafing silence in the Muslim community in the United States. That silence is indicative of a state of mind that is troubling in a substantial part of the country’s population. What is the reason for the silence in Muslim-America and how will it be perceived?

It means nothing to claim that violence by a Muslim is not the “voice of Islam”; a cover-up of empty words, a political salve to hide behind. Totally meaningless. ISIS has made it easy for us to understand their focus. The ISIS propaganda apparatus publishes an English-Language jihadist slick magazine Dabiq. In its latest issue, aimed at the English-Speaking world, it rejoices over Foley’s beheading, and it amazingly calls the beheading “a cooling balm for the believers’ hearts”.

Why hasn’t the Muslim community in this country jumped to their communal feet in outrage, as in Paris and London? Equally disturbing why hasn’t the national press, the media and the talking heads not confronted the silence of the American- Muslim population?

Why the fear of national confrontation? Is it the fear that one might be accused of prejudice against those in this country who count themselves as being Muslim? Accused of being racist? Not unexpected, the Muslim population found its marching feet and protested loudly in London and Paris against Israel , but they have seem to have lost that same collective voice, the same passion and dedication in denouncing the atrocities committed by ISIS and other Muslim extremists. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a self-described group similar, it alleges, to the NAACP, in promoting and protecting the positive image of Islam and Muslims n American. In 1998 a co-founder of CAIR said: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.” To be redundant: Where is the collective voice of outrage in the American-Muslim community?

Could the sad truth be that there is an unspoken thread to one’s own religious/secular world that prohibits them from criticizing their own? Are they fearful of retaliation by the extremists in their midst? Why is an entire Muslim- American community paralyzed in expressing what should be their outrage? I would hate to think the worst. Certainly, if the individual Muslim-American fails to join with his neighbor and other Muslim-Americans in protest, their continued shared silence will be perceived, rightfully or wrongfully, as being part of a silent supporter to the horrors of ISIS and those like them.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

Global Incidents and Commentary

[column]Global Events

    • RFE reports Turkey has called for an extraordinary meeting of the NATO military alliance to discuss what it calls Syria’s “aggressive” downing of a Turkish fighter jet over the Mediterranean. Speaking on his country’s TRT state television, Turkish Foreign Minister said that the Phantom fighter jet was on a routine training mission when it inadvertently strayed into Syrian airspace. The plane carried no weaponry and that its mission, it was alleged, was not related to continued unrest in Syria.
    • MOSCOW, June 24 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian ship carried overhauled disassembled helicopters to Syria and not new gunships as was claimed by western media, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei alleged. “We are not going to make any excuses because we did not breach anything. We violated neither international law, nor UN Security Council resolutions nor our national legislation on export control, which is one of the tightest in the world,” the Minister said in an interview Rossiya-1 TV channel. Western media claimed the Russian ship carried armaments and ammunition to Syria, a circulated a picture of the alleged ship. Editor’s Note: If true it is a tragedy of gigantic proportions in terms of human tragedy.
    • Voice of America reports from LONDON – Ecuador says it is giving serious consideration to giving Julian Assange ( Assange is thefounder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, which published confidential files on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and thousands of U.S. cables sent between overseas diplomats and Washington) political asylum, after the founder of the WikiLeaks website made the request at the country’s embassy in London. British authorities say they will arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy. Assange alleges that “Ecuador back in 2010 suggested that perhaps I should come to Ecuador and be given residency, so they are sympathetic over a long period of time so we hope that the asylum application will be viewed favorably,” he said. The Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said his government was considering the asylum application. Editor’s Note: What wonders what Ecuador will extract from the United States to ignore Assange’s request.
    • The Times of India reports from NEW DELHI, that Delhi and Mumbai, two most populated cities of India, will be protected by the missile defense system.“According to media, these two cities have been chosen by the Defense Research and Development Organization for deploying the first national Ballistic Missile Defense system. Editor’s Note: The whole world, it appears, is preparing for armed attack by its neighbors.
    • Iran: Al Pessin of the Voice of America reports from London what could have been safely predicted: “The near failure of talks in Moscow and the pending imposition of a full oil embargo by the European Union have deepened the dispute between Iran and the international community, and increased concerns about military action.“Two days of grueling talks did not narrow the gaps between the West and Iran. The negotiators could only agree to hold lower level talks in the coming weeks. Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies calls the Moscow meetings “a disappointment,” and has little hope for the follow-on talks.” Editor’s Note: Does anyone really believe that Iran will come to the table after repeated false moves. It is a continuing game of diplomatic gamesmanship, buying time for them to develop their bomb making and delivery capabilities. Once accomplished the world would have lost yet another moment to secure some semblance of sanity in the world.
    • Turkish media has reported that several high-level Syrian military officers — a general, two colonels, two majors, and 30 soldiers — have defected with their families to Turkey. They were part of a group of 200 Syrians who crossed the border near Reyhanli and were taken to a high-security camp about two miles from the Syrian border.
    • Syrian president Bashar al-Assad declared to his newly appointed cabinet that Syria was in a “state of war,” and “all of our politics has to be concentrated on winning this war.” Riad al-Asaad, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army opposition group, told the Lebanese Daily Star that Hezbollah fighters are involved in battles in Syria. Al-Asaad said “as for the involvement of Hezbollah fighters, we have confirmed that it is involved in events inside Syria, especially in Talkalakh and Homs

[/column]

 

[column]Commentary: One Person, One Vote, One Time

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for Egypt’s 2012 presidential election, Mohamed Morsi, was officially announced the winner after a number of tumultuous days on June 23rd. At a rally before the election, a widely known cleric spoke on behalf of Morsi, who was the Muslim Brotherhood’s second choice as candidate, and drew a huge emotional response from his audience, when he outlined his hopes and beliefs with their triumph of the presidential election. One must remember that the Brotherhood had already secured a strong majority in the parliamentary election; a constitution of their own making was assured. Their only obstacle was (and is) the Army.

The charismatic cleric envisioned a changed world with the election of Morsi. Gaza would be liberated, the Caliphate[i] of the “United States of the Arabs” would be restored, with Jerusalem as its capital. His rallying call to those who were present and those listening to the broadcast was that “our cry shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs march towards Jerusalem.’

Martyrs! To claim Jerusalem! While Morsi himself did not echo these statements, he did not repudiate them, and later, prior to the actual election, promised to stand for peaceful relations with Israel. Yet during his campaign he pledged that his administration would be based on Islam. No mention was made of the fact that he spent years as a member of an anti-Israel group, the Committee to Resist Zionism. At the same time, he is not a stranger to the United States, having received his PhD from the University of Southern California, and he was an assistant professor on their faculty. He had seen democracy in action while living in California.

Not withstanding President Jimmy Carter overarching interest and presence in that part of the world, the Brotherhood’s opposition claimed that the Brotherhood employed “intimidation, threats and violence against supporters of candidate Ahmed Shafik.” Those opposed to the Brotherhood “filed more than 100 official complaints accusing the Brotherhood of ballot rigging and stuffing.”

The National Post reported —“ Egypt’s media are demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood as the state’s worst enemy, claiming the fundamentalist group plans to plunge the country into chaos if its candidate does not emerge as the winner from the presidential runoff.” The question left unanswered is what they will do now that their candidate has won. We now must wait for that answer. One thing is certain, there will be an escalation of tension between the government newly elected and the Military. Tensions are escalating, as in the past, with protesters gathering in larger and larger numbers in Tahrir Square; the power of the Constitution Court will come into question, and the Military protecting its concept of national security will exercise its determination. Each of the multi-sided equations in this battle will be aimed at the sweeping powers assumed by the military and their diminution of the office of the presidency.

International overt condemnation of the rule of the military, with a subtext by those who secretly fear the Brotherhood, will have little impact on the ultimate outcome of the political uncertainty frothing in Cairo. The military will not lightly rescind the role it engrafted upon its own historical mandate—now adding the role of legislator, the right to arrest civilians and control over drafting a new constitution. The military has also taken several steps to shield itself from civilian oversight.

But the most telling sign, as reported on the cover of this week’s edition of the state weekly Al-Mussawar, showed a picture of Morsi placing a kiss on the head of the group’s spiritual leader, or Murshid, Mohammed Badie in a gesture of both reverence and submission. For the world to see: The president/government acknowledging it’s being “submissive” to the supreme Islamic/religious leader of the nation. Within days the articles in Arabic newspapers around the world were speculating who is blinking first in the standoff between the people, the newly elected government and the military. A headline in the United States read: “Islamic Democracy.” That, to my mind, is either a non-sequitur or an oxymoron. Your choice.

“We will not be ruled by the Murshid,” said the magazine in red print under the picture. Inside, eight prominent literary figures known for their liberal views said in interviews that a Brotherhood presidency could change Egypt forever. “I consider the Brotherhood to be a threat to Egypt,” said one of the eight, prize-winning novelist Gamal el-Ghetani. “We are living a moment that may be similar to (Adolf) Hitler’s rise to power.”

A chilling thought: One person, one vote, one time.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

  • Editor’s Note, postscript: Turkey’s uproar over a shot down unarmed fighter jet by Syria while understandably it was an act of aggression, the extent of which is not sufficient to go to war or reign unleashed force on that nation. Turkey’s prime minister has claimed that Syria is a “clear and present threat” to his country. Nonsense! May I suggest that the Turkish government beset with serious financial chaos is attempting to focus the unrest, concerns and anger of its population at the government’s handling of the economy toward a foreign and different enemy: Syria.

 

 

 

 

 

 


[i] Caliphate, the political-religious state comprising the Muslim community and the lands and peoples under its dominion in the centuries following the death (ad 632) of the Prophet Muḥammad. Ruled by a caliph (Arabic khalīfah, “successor”), who held temporal and sometimes a degree of spiritual authority, the empire of the Caliphate grew rapidly through conquest during its first two centuries to include most of Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Spain. Dynastic struggles later brought about the Caliphate’s decline, and it ceased to exist with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258. Encyclopedia Britannica