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“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Benjamin Franklin

Monday, 22 September 2014

“This is a problem of the first magnitude” Tony Blair

In a recent article on his website, former British PM Tony Blair seeks once again to explain the problem we face with Islam, Islamism, ISIS, and Muslim extremism.

I have observed Tony Blair discussing this subject over recent years, and while he still feels the need to make the obligatory “Islam is not Islamism” statement, he is now getting much clearer about the systemic nature of Islamic terrorism.  He is finally prepared to state publicly that its roots go much deeper into Muslim communities than Western leaders are presently willing to admit. 

That confronting ISIS militarily is one thing, but if we don’t deal with the systemic roots of this ideology within the Muslim community, it will simply spring up again in a different form in another location.  He has finally connected the dots, realizing that Islamic terrorism in all its various expressions around the world are not ‘isolated cases’ brought about by local historical grievances, although those aspects may be a factor, but in reality, they are all linked by a common ideology, a common world view, a common goal.

As I said, he is not there yet completely, but he is making progress.

Enclosed are some extracts, you can read the full text here:

The Challenge is a Spectrum not Simply a Fringe

This argument goes to the heart of the scale of the challenge and why we find it so hard to comprehend it, let alone defeat it. The problem is not that we're facing a fringe of crazy people, a sort of weird cult confined to a few fanatics. If it was, we could probably root it out, kill or imprison its leaders, deter its followers and close the doors to new recruits.

The problem is that we're facing a spectrum of opinion based on a worldview which stretches far further into parts of Muslim society. At the furthest end is the fringe. But at the other end are those who may completely oppose some of the things the fringe does and who would never themselves dream of committing acts of violence, but who unfortunately share certain elements of the fanatic's world view. These elements comprise, inter alia: a belief in religious exclusivity not merely in spiritual but in temporal terms; a desire to re-shape society according to a set of social and political norms, based on religious belief about Islam, wholly at odds with the way the rest of the world has developed, for example in relation to attitudes to women; a view of the West, particularly the USA, that is innately hostile and regards it essentially as the enemy, not only in policy but in culture and way of living.

This Islamism – a politicisation of religion to an intense and all-encompassing degree – is not confined to a fringe. It is an ideology (and a theology derived from Salafist thinking) taught and preached every day to millions, actually to tens of millions, in some mosques, certain madrassas, and in formal and informal education systems the world over.

It is the spectrum that helps create the fringe. [italics are mine - it’s something I have also been saying for a while now] A large part of Western policy – and something I remember so well fighting in Government – is based on the belief that we can compromise with the spectrum in the hope of marginalising the fringe. This is a fateful error. All we do is to legitimise the spectrum, which then gives ideological oxygen to the fringe.

[Note: personally I believe this is the biggest issue we face in our Western democracies when it comes to Islam.  Which leader do you see that is at present willing to de-legitimise the Muslim spectrum?  Tony Blair doesn’t say how this should be done.]

Compile a compendium of all the formal and informal methods of teaching religion in Muslim communities, even in our own countries, and what you will find is much more frightening than you would think: that in many countries even those considered moderate, there is nonetheless a significant number of young people taught a view of religion and the world that is exclusive, reactionary and in the context of a world whose hallmark is people mixing together across the boundaries of race and culture, totally contrary to what those young people need to succeed in the 21st C. Only Foundations like my own and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund are even attempting such an endeavour - a sign of the paucity of the strategy, on a global scale, which we require.

Then go to the online following of the more radical clerics and see how some, including those with views actually very close to the fringe, have followers numbered not in thousands or even tens of thousands, but in millions. Read some of the twitter feed coming out of parts of the Mid East. Read the sermons that some of the most acclaimed radical clerics give. Mohamed al-Araifi, banned in 26 European countries for his views on women and Jews, alone has 10 million people who subscribe to his account.

So we may naturally prefer to see these people who have come to our attention in the last weeks as isolated lunatics, to be hunted down like serial killers and with their demise the problem is eradicated. Would that it were so. But it isn't. Unless we confront the spectrum as well as the fringe, we will only eliminate one group and then be faced with another.

Education is a Security Issue

This is the question upon which the least is said in this whole debate, which is both perplexing and alarming. Each and every day the world over, millions, even tens of millions of young children are taught formally in school or in informal settings, a view of the world that is hostile to those of different beliefs. That world view has been promulgated, proselytised and preached as a result of vast networks of funding and organisation, some coming out of the Middle East, others now locally fostered. These are the incubators of the radicalism. In particular the export of the doctrines of Salafi Wahhabism has had a huge impact on the teaching of Islam round the world.

I am not saying that they teach youngsters to be extremists. I am sure most don't. But they teach them to take their place on the spectrum. They teach a view of the world that warps young and unformed minds, and places them in a position of tension with those who think differently.

If we do not tackle this question with the honesty and openness it demands, then all the security measures and all the fighting will count for nothing. As I have said before, especially foolish is the idea that we leave this process of the generational deformation of the mind undisturbed, at the same time as we spend billions on security relationships to counter the very threat we allow to be created.

The Labour caucus will be like Syria without guns.

The elections are over for another three years.  Winston Churchill declared that the best argument against democracy was a five-minute conversation with the average voter, but he was proved wrong during the weekend, at least on this occasion.

Approximately half of New Zealand voters decided to return the National Party Government for a third term, this time with an increased majority.  So great was National’s support that they could govern alone – MMP is not supposed to do this.

The next highest polling party was Labour on 24.7% of the popular vote, then the Greens on 10%, NZ First on 9%.  The Conservative party lead by Colin Craig didn’t manage to reach the 5% threshold and fell short at 4.4%.

The biggest looser was the Labour Party.  The once proud bastion of the Left reduced to less than 25% of the popular vote.  Once again, credit must go to the ‘average voter’ who has finally decided they are about as keen on Labour’s politics of gender equity, LGBT advocacy and identity politics as they are on warm beer at the annual Christmas party.

For the foreseeable future, Labour will be like Syria without guns.  The incumbent leadership will be constantly under siege, with the internal opposition split into various factions, variously fighting the leadership and each other.  While this usually happens after an electoral loss, the enmity will be greater this time given the magnitude of the drubbing. 

This battle will be for the soul of the party.  If it continues with ‘business as usual’ its demise is certain.  It is yet to be seen if the remaining Labour politicians and party faithful who are fiercely wedded to their various agenda’s are able to lay them down for the good of the party, and work together for its ultimate survival.

So where have all the left voters gone?  Not to the Greens who might have expected to profit from Labour’s decline.  Not to the Maori party, not to Mana.  Possibly some went to Winston’s NZ First, but only one or two percent at most.

Most likely they were numbered amongst the 1.0M potential voters who stayed home, too indifferent to vote, too apathetic, too satisfied with the status quo?

Perhaps this is one time when their sloth becomes a national virtue. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

First a ‘master race’, now a ‘master faith’.

Of all the western leaders who choose to speak about Islam, only one stands out with moral clarity; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had this to say on the anniversary of 9/11.

“There's a master race; now there's a master faith. And that allows you to do anything to anyone, but first of all to your own people and then to everyone else,” Netanyahu continued, in a reference to Nazi ideology stemming from Adolf Hitler’s belief, detailed in his speeches and writings, that Aryans were the 'master race'.

"And what do you do to everyone else? For that you use new techniques. And the new techniques involve first of all, taking over civilian populations, putting yourself inside civilian areas, contravening the laws of war and the Geneva Convention; using your people as human shields, the same people you execute; and then firing indiscriminately at civilians. You hide behind civilians, you fire on civilians. And you fire rockets and missiles.
"And this creates a whole new set of problems. And these problems are born of the fact that it's much harder to fight this kind of terror - much harder. It's much easier to fight an army: tanks, artillery, command centers, open spaces. You destroy that, you destroy the army. End of war.
"But these people, because they're forcing you to face up to the moral limits that democracies obey, are basically forcing you to fight a new war."
Netanyahu described what he called the "moral divide" between Islamic groups like Hamas and Western democracies.
“All of Israel mourned on September 11th. In Gaza, they were dancing on the roofs. They were handing out candy,” Netanyahu said. “That's the moral divide. We mourn; they celebrate the death of thousands of innocents.

With recent events in Australia, we can see how Islamic terrorists are living inside civilian populations in both Sydney and Brisbane.  Furthermore, they prepared to align themselves with the ‘master faith’ against the Australian civilian population and the Australian Government.

It is noteworthy that when the anti-terrorism raids took place yesterday, that angry Muslims marched in the streets, not to condemn those who are supposedly giving Islam a bad name, but rather against the Australian Government for ‘persecuting’ the Muslim community.

It is this reaction by some Australian Muslims that force us to face up to the ‘moral limits of western democracies’.  We must never become like them in their actions and their attitudes, however we must also never allow our tolerance to become a weapon used against us by the intolerance of Islam, the ‘master faith’.

It is yet to be determined if Western Governments are up to the task.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Who is innocent?

Watching the BBC report on the Australian ‘terrorist’raids today, they interviewed an Imam who strongly denounced attacks on ‘innocent’ people.  He used the word innocent several times and stated that Islam does not condone attacks on ‘innocent’ people.

But when it comes to Islam WHO is innocent?

According to the Quran the following people are NOT innocent.

            Hypocrites      -      Muslims not obeying Allah and the Quran.

            Apostates       -      Muslims who reject Islam and change their faith.

            Infidels            -      Those who refuse to convert to Islam.

Unless you are part of ISIS, or a similar Muslim grouping, there is every chance that you will not be considered innocent, even if you are a warm hearted liberal who is well disposed to Islam and with lots of Muslim friends.  Even if you are an infidel that has volunteered to take aid to the Muslim victims of the Syrian civil war – that will not save you.

This is the problem we face when we dialog with Islam and its apologists.  They may speak the same language as we do, but they mean something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT, knowing that the average person cannot decode their message, and will likely be comforted by their duplicity.

Rest assured, every Muslim understands what these lying Imam’s are saying very clearly. The only ‘innocents’ are Muslims who obey Allah.  

Christians arrested in Australian pre-dawn terror raids… no wait…

It has been reported that 600 police in Sydney and Brisbane have been involved in pre-dawn raids resulting in the arrests of several Muslims individuals who were known to security agencies. The arrests follow the execution of a number of search warrants in Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park in Sydney.

It is believed that a terrorist network had been planning to carry out a series of attacks in Australia. 

Could the planned actions of these individuals and groups be considered anything other than an act of war against Australia and its citizens?  Do they still have treason as a crime on their statute books?

To save Tony Abbott the trouble of making a press statement on the matter, I want to personally assure readers that these planned terrorist attacks have nothing whatsoever to do with Islam.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

There is no institutional replacement for the family

In a post today Daniel Greenfield discusses the growth in ‘singleness’ in America.  Apparently there are now more single people than married living in the USA.  While Daniel doesn’t address the question of cohabitation, he does explore the political impact of declining numbers of people living in traditional family structures.

Generally speaking, families with one or more working parents are able to live independent of Government welfare.  They are future oriented because they care about the world their children and grandchildren will inherit.  They are engaged in civil societies mediating voluntary institutions like school committees.  They may teach Sunday school, coach sports teams, run their children to music lessons and attend their cultural performances.

There are not many single people on school committees, or organizing the local kindergarten working bee on the weekend.  There are not many single parents doing these things either simply because of the logistical barriers and costs involved.

Aside from the individual benefits that accrue to those living in functional families, the entire community benefits from the institutions of civil society that families establish and support through their voluntary efforts.

Historically, people growing up in functional families generally support political parties that encourage self-reliance, small government and minimal welfare.  Why? Because that’s how they have seen their parents live and it’s how they live.  It is probable that they have also seen the destructive impact of intergenerational welfare dependence, and realize that there is no institutional replacement for the family.

Conversely, if you are welfare dependent then it’s not unreasonable to expect that you would vote for political parties that believe in big Government, expansive welfare and high levels of income redistribution.  Over recent decades, as functional families have declined, increasing numbers view welfare as an entitlement, along with their right to vote.

The political impact in western nations including New Zealand, has been that the major parties on the right of the political spectrum, in our case the National Party, are in a continuous move to the left so as not to alienate this growing political demographic.  They would call it occupying the centre ground, but when the centre moves to the left, so do they.

Smaller parties spring up on the right to fill the void, but often struggle to avoid being labeled ‘far right’ or worse by their political opponents.  They also struggle to be taken seriously by the mainstream media, who in New Zealand at least, tend to support the view that more Government intervention is the sensible answer to every social problem.

Let’s hope that at the election on Saturday, the welfare slaves stay home, fully immersed in their lethargy, enjoying the comforts purchased by their neighbour’s endeavours, and forget to vote.  

Monday, 15 September 2014

Thank God for elections.

It is probable that the primary reason New Zealand has not followed Australia’s lead in providing a military response to the Islamic State, is that we are in the final lead up to an election.  While we don’t have the same military capacity as Australia, our SAS troops could easily have been made available as they were in Afghanistan.

Somewhat ironically, for once politics has prevented us from engaging in an act of mindless stupidity.

Which begs the question, what is Tony Abbott thinking?  Does he really believe that sending 600 Australian personnel along with a handful of strike aircraft is going to make any meaningful difference to the chaos that is Iraq and Syria?

He said Islamic State militants were responsible for "cruelty on an extraordinary scale".
"We've seen beheadings, crucifixions, we've seen mass executions, we've seen hundreds of thousands of people driven from their homes, we've had women forced into sexual slavery, we've had the deaths of very young children, we've had tens of thousands of people besieged on Mount Sinjar," Mr Abbott said.
"What we have seen is an exaltation in atrocity unparalleled since the Middle Ages. All I know is that decent people everywhere regardless of their religion, regardless of their culture, should unite against it."

Well, incase Tony Abbott has forgotten, ‘the West’ has spent the best part of ten years fighting this evil in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and the situation has become worse rather than better.

In the same article, Tony Abbot states: "Again I stress that this movement is neither Islamic nor a state. It is a death cult reaching out to countries such as Australia.”

Treating the last item first, the land mass that the Islamic State now controls in Iraq is approximately the size of Belgium, now that’s not as large as Australia of course, but sufficient I would have thought to be considered a state.

As to whether the movement is Islamic or not, the question has moved beyond political dissembling, and beyond debate.  ISIS is 7th century Islam in full bloom, entirely supported by Islamic texts including the Quran and the Hadiths and the example of their prophet. 

The fact that 1.5 Billion of the 1.6 Billion Muslims worldwide are somewhat nominal about their faith and today express little interest in beheading the infidel does not make ISIS any less Islamic.

We are not going to destroy this expression of Islam through military action.  The best we can hope for is containment.  Containment within the Middle East, where the various parties can set about solving their theological differences without interference from well meaning but naive western politicians and their military.

Tony Abbott said that the Islamic state was “a death cult reaching out to countries such as Australia.”

In this he is correct.  There are hundreds of Muslims living in Australia, if not thousands who support the Islamic State either financially, ideologically, or by traveling to Iraq and Syria to fight with them.

Local supporters of this Islamic ‘death cult’ have become the elephant in the room for Western nations including Australia and New Zealand.

While the Government or the media can always find a tame Imam to express their opposition to the actions of the Islamic state, there are enough feral Imam’s and their followers living in Australia, and possibly New Zealand to cause us all concern.  

Approximately 70 of Islam’s leaders in Australia recently wrote an open letter to Tony Abbott expressing their concerns at his attempts to increase travel restrictions to Syria and greater security around those planning to return from the battlefields.

Their vocal opposition to Tony Abbott and not to the Islamic State speaks volumes.

Australia has raised its ‘terrorism alert’ to the second highest level, meaning that an attack is likely.  That is to say, an attack is likely to be initiated by one or more followers of Islam in Australia, against fellow Australians on Australian soil.

Two decades ago, this would have been unthinkable; today it is ‘likely’.

There are two policy approaches to dealing with this problem.

The work of the security forces not withstanding, the first is reactive and managed under civil law. 

Following the attack you bag up the body parts, wash the blood of the streets, remind everyone that this has nothing to do with Islam, and then hunt down the perpetrators. 

You treat it as a civil crime.

This is the approach presently being taken by Tony Abbott and his government.  I might add this is the approach taken by western governments everywhere.

The second approach is proactive.

First, you cease all immigration from Islamic countries.  This is the only obvious way to begin containment at home, as you cannot tell which Muslims are benign and which belong to a ‘death cult’ by using airport scanners at immigration.  Furthermore, you cannot tell if the benign will transform into cult members once they have arrived, or if not them personally, then perhaps their children as has often proved to be the case.

Second, you make it clear that Islamic terrorist violence is primarily the problem of the Muslim community.  That any terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims on Australian soil will be treated as an act of war, which is exactly what it is.

You explain in advance, that should a terrorist attack take place, the perpetrators will be hunted down, interrogated and if proved guilty, eventually shot by a military firing squad.  The mosque they attended will be leveled; their family members and their Imam will be deported. 

Furthermore, if any Imam, Mosque, community or individual is proved to be funding individual terrorists or terrorist organizations locally or abroad they will be deported along with their families, and their Mosque leveled.

Those who travel overseas to fight or support terrorist organizations will have their passport cancelled, and will be unable to return.  They will however not be prevented from leaving Australia or New Zealand.

Yes, these are drastic measures, but in this Tony Abbott is correct, you cannot deal with a ‘death cult’ in any other way than by suppression, containment and annihilation.  This is just as true for Australia and New Zealand as it is for the Middle East. 

Peaceful Muslims have nothing to fear from such measures, and should applaud every attempt to eliminate radicalization from their Mosque’s and their communities.  As we have seen in Syria and Iraq, the first victims of Islamic violence are always Muslims.  These measures would give the Muslim community a reason to become proactive in teaching against the theological basis for ISIS, (assuming that's possible) and to expose those in their midst who embrace the ‘death cult’ as described by Tony Abbott.

I suspect we are not ‘there yet’ but you can count on the public’s mood shifting if that which is now ‘likely’ becomes a reality.

A NSW Police spokesman said officers were “actively” searching for the five rocket launchers, which were among 10 stolen by former Army ­captain Shane Della-Vedova from a military facility in ­Orchard Hills in 2002.

The Daily Telegraph can also reveal members of the (Islamic) Pendennis Nine terror cell who planned to attack high-profile Sydney targets and are serving long jail terms have refused to tell police where the rocket launchers are hidden.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Is John Kerry President Obama's best weapon against the Islamic State?

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has beheaded a British aid worker David Haines, the third barbaric murder of a hostage in just a few weeks. May we never become desensitized to this brutality.

The BBC reports: “Senior UK imams and British Muslim community leaders have also condemned the killing.
"An attack on a British citizen is an attack on Britain and we raise our voices as a community united to deplore the actions of the terrorists Isis," Dr Qari Asim, imam of the Makkah Mosque in Leeds said.
Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, from Majlis-e-Ulama, which represents the majority of Shia Muslims in the UK and Europe, said militants were hiding behind a "false interpretation" of Islam, describing the group as "criminals and villains".  [note: the Islamic State represents the Sunni sect of Islam, so the Shia Imam’s comments are unsurprising.]

Second note to readers, the Shia's are just as violent as the Islamic State in their actions against Sunni's in their attempts to eradicate them from the planet.

We have come to hear these condemnations regularly from Imam’s in the west, and our political leadership, ‘this has nothing to do with Islam’, or the Islamic State’s actions are based upon a ‘false interpretation of Islam’.  However, as I have pointed out before, these Western Imam’s provide no scriptural refutation of this barbaric behavior, and no rational explanation as to why hundreds, if not thousands of Muslims have left Britain and Europe to join the Islamic State.   If it has ‘nothing to do with Islam’, then why is it only Muslims who are joining this movement?

Furthermore, the Islamic State’sleader Dr Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has a doctorate in Islamic theology, so perhaps it is reasonable to assume that he does understand something about Islam’s religious texts?

Then we have the spectacle of John Kerry in Egypt, attempting to drum up support against ISIS.

From the BBC: “Mr Kerry also emphasised the need for Egypt to use its soft power in the Muslim world, employing the considerable weight of its religious institutions to counter extremist ideologies.”

This statement is so laughable that the Egyptian leadership must roll their eyes in disbelief.  Is Kerry unaware that Egypt is the home of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that fathered Hamas, and a dozen other violent jihadists groups?  Has it not occurred to Kerry that Islamic theology, the actions of their prophet, and 1,400 years of history might just support the actions of the Islamic State?

While Shia Imam’s in the west feel the need to condemn ISIS, how many Sunni Imam’s in majority Sunni Muslim countries have felt the need to do so?  

Zero at last count.

In the end, John Kerry may be the West’s best weapon against jihad.  If Obama keeps sending him to the Middle East, the leadership in those countries will eventually feel the need to take some action themselves to curb ISIS, even if it’s only to get some respite from Kerry’s visits. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Sleepwalking towards armageddon

I came across atheist blogger Sam Harris today, and thought his post regarding the west’s inability to talk rationally about Islam was worth sharing.

As an atheist, I cannot help wondering when this scrim of pretense and delusion will be finally burned away—either by the clear light of reason or by a surfeit of horror meted out to innocents by the parties of God. Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas—jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy—reliably lead to oppression and murder? It may be true that no faith teaches people to massacre innocents exactly—but innocence, as the President surely knows, is in the eye of the beholder. Are apostates “innocent”? Blasphemers? Polytheists? Islam has the answer, and the answer is “no.”

More British Muslims have joined the ranks of ISIS than have volunteered to serve in the British armed forces. In fact, this group has managed to attract thousands of recruits from free societies throughout the world to help build a paradise of repression and sectarian slaughter in Syria and Iraq. This is an astonishing phenomenon, and it reveals some very uncomfortable truths about the failures of multiculturalism, the inherent vulnerability of open societies, and the terrifying power of bad ideas.

No doubt many enlightened concerns will come flooding into the reader’s mind at this point. I would not want to create the impression that most Muslims support ISIS, nor would I want to give any shelter or inspiration to the hatred of Muslims as people. In drawing a connection between the doctrine of Islam and jihadist violence, I am talking about ideas and their consequences, not about 1.5 billion nominal Muslims, many of whom do not take their religion very seriously.

But a belief in martyrdom, a hatred of infidels, and a commitment to violent jihad are not fringe phenomena in the Muslim world. These preoccupations are supported by the Koran and numerous hadith. That is why the popular Saudi cleric MohammadAl-Areefi sounds like the ISIS army chaplain. The man has 9.5 million followers on Twitter (twice as many as Pope Francis has). If you can find an important distinction between the faith he preaches and that which motivates the savagery of ISIS, you should probably consult a neurologist.