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Saturday, 11 March 2006
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Rich Lowry’s vast ignorance of Islam, not to mention the history of Iraq, is once again on display in this new cover story for National Review. He labels those who disagree with the President’s stay the course approach in Iraq as “to hell with them” hawks. It sounds like he’s been getting an earful from the party faithful, but nonetheless plows forward with an argument that isn’t much of an argument at all, as he ignores the actual option of troop withdrawal and what the likely outcome of such a move would be.
It is filled with howlers like this:
They want us to quit the Middle East, and the “to hell with them” hawks wouldn’t mind quitting; our enemies say democracy is incompatible with Islam, and the “to hell with them” hawks believe them.

Bush’s foreign policy has obviously needed adjustments: more of an emphasis on diplomacy and allies; a realization that creating democracy through military intervention is deeply problematic; a greater measure of prudence. Secretary of State Rice has made many of these adjustments in a neo-realist synthesis, taking the idealism of neoconservativism and leavening it with the practicality of realism. But what deserves preserving from the original Bush approach?

First, the contention that Islam is a religion of peace. Even if this seems a polite fiction, it is an important one. Influential Muslims believe it to be true, and it is crucial that they prevail in the Muslim struggle for self-definition. Rather than scorning them, we should be doing what we can to support the likes of King Abdullah of Jordan, who has launched an anti-terror initiative, and Iraq’s Ayatollah Sistani, who has been consistent in condemning terrorism. Whatever the theological niceties of Islam, religious cultures take on different colorations across time. Some people wondered whether Christianity was a religion of peace 300 years ago when rival Christian princes were warring over questions of faith.

Like Christianity, Islam has within it resources that can be used both to promote liberty and peace and to repress these things. The relative strength of these dueling resources depends in part on the political and economic conditions in which they exist. We should want to do all we reasonably can to create the conditions in which the positive elements within Islam flower.
Rich,  I have news for you.  The history of Islam did not begin with Khomeini and for all your labeling of us as "simplistic and naive." you have not mounted much of a defense for Bush-Wilsonianism in the ME.  Try reading Elie Kedourie on Iraq.  Look into the British experience in the 1920s and 30s.  Read the letters of the pitiful Gertrude Bell.  Check out Hugh Fitzgerald's work.  Or Andy Bostom's.  In short, read the actual history of the place before you pontificate about all the "positive elements" we all seem to be missing.
Plus, I find your suggestion that our foreign policy should be based upon a "polite lie" ridiculous and appalling.
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Posted on 03/11/2006 11:17 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 11 March 2006
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Jack Wheeler has the entire play up here and writes:

The claim is being made that Voltaire wrote Mahomet as an attack on religious fanaticism in general and as a disguised attack on Christianity in particular.  Nonsense.  He dedicated the play to Pope Benedict XIV, who wrote back a letter of appreciation.

Voltaire knew his Mohammed and Koran.  The characters of Seid and Palmira are taken from Mohammed's adopted son Zeid and his wife Zainab bint Jahsh.  Mohammed's lechery over Zainab caused him to invent a Commandment from God saying that God ordered Zeid to divorce Zainab and that is was Divinely OK for Mohammed to marry his daughter-in-law.  This is in the Koran, Sura 33:37.

The play is a direct assault on the moral character of Mohammed by Voltaire.  This is a classic work by a classic Western writer and should be performed on Broadway, by drama clubs and college/high school thespian groups all over the country.

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Posted on 03/11/2006 11:06 AM by Andy Bostom
A Mental Health Charity has defended a statue it commissioned of Sir Winston Churchill in a straitjacket. The statue has been criticised as "absurd
"What have I done?" said Christine:"I've ruined the party machine.To lie in the nudeIs not very rude,But to lie in the House is obscene."   Apologies

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The comments on this blog are moderated and so must be approved before they show up.  Blank comments, or comments with no identification are
A translation of this Jyllands Posten article is here A broad alliance of grass-roots movements have gone to the prosecutors of several states to

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John Profumo died today, aged 91. He is best known for the forty years he spent as a charity worker at the refuge centre, Toynbee Hall: To the residents
Whatever the "flavor" of spirituality, this is a fascinating side effect of the economic growth in China. Even if it's not making the brass

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John has a fantastic column over at NRO this morning: (...)The issue here is: What do we know about Iraq? About the people, their desires, their prospects,
Ladies, or indeed gentlemen, do not fall in love with a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This snippet from The Telegraph explains

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From AP via Yahoo! News: "Abbas Endorses Olmert, Raising Eyebrows." Suggested caption: "I'm in my happy place... I'm in my happy place..." Anyway,
Ben MacIntyre in The Times has some choice words to say about telegrams: Mark Twain once received the following telegram from his publisher:

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Alice Thompson in The Telegraph argues that "you should be rich or poor under this Government - otherwise you're stuffed": If you are
While we all focus obsessively on the tribal squabbles in the Middle East, things are happening elsewhere. See, for example, this report on China's relentless

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Jason Pappas has a very good post on the current political climate.  Bigotry is obviously wrong but so is bigotry-baiting. What is bigotry-baiting?
Leon De Winter writes in the WSJ: After two years of disastrous dialogue, and more of the same in recent days, we can conclude that no diplomatic

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With thanks to Drunken Blogger
According to The Times, you can make yourself more intelligent by means of "brain exercises": TACKLING the Times crossword or Su Doku may

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From AP via Yahoo! News, this trial balloon comes from the same people who let Sudan serve on the UN Human Rights Commission. What illustrious
Andy Bostom blogged that Wafa Sultan is what a real Arab reformer should sound like.  MEMRI is reporting on  her payback for being so open-minded. 

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