Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

ISIS attacks in Brussels

March 23, 2016
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Terrorist attacks in Brussels in a wider context of US imperial wars

zaventem-airport

by Dr. Nasir Khan

On 22 March 2016, some suicide bombers carried out their indiscriminate attacks on the innocent people in Brussels. Their acts of vicious violence are shocking and despicable.  ISIS has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

ISIS has shown once again that it can strike anywhere it chooses and by such violent actions,  it gains maximum publicity for its ideological stance and objectives. The murders of 22 March are part of the pattern that ISIS had established and since last year has extended its operations to Europe.  As the organisation has many sympathisers in different countries and many of its indoctrinated fanatics are willing to be suicide bombers, it shows its reckless attitude towards all it regards enemies or opponents.

Despite the utterly abominable crime we witnessed, we should also try to see the terrorist attacks in European countries like France and Belgium in a wider context. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and to some extent Pakistan also have been in the throes of imperial wars as well as internal conflicts for many decades. What has happened in Paris last year and now in Brussels was an extension of the violence from Iraq and Syria to Europe.

We rightly condemn what happens at the hands of fanatic terrorists in Europe but when it comes to US wars and EU interventions in the Islamic countries,  we, who live in the western hemisphere,  show little concern over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people there. Apparently, the people of the world are not in total darkness about the recent history of Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria. Under the slogan ‘War on Terror’, the US rulers with the help of their allies have pursued their geopolitical objectives by wars and terror, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Unfortunately, political leaders and the media show great reluctance to give the same attention to the vast numbers of innocent victims of genocidal wars. However, when it comes to any terrorist attack anywhere in the west they give a forceful response to any acts of violence and terror. Such attitudes are unhealthy and discriminatory. In fact, religious fanatics take advantage of such debunked standards and successfully show the enmity of the western nations towards Muslims. The aim of propaganda is not to inform and enlighten but to terrify and mislead. In this, US rulers have been the role model for Muslim extremists.

Now let us briefly mention the role of recent US wars. It was no other power than the United States that unleashed the first Gulf War in 1991. The real objective of the United States was not only to evict the Iraqis out of Kuwait but also to diminish the power or potential of Iraq as a regional power.

In fact, President Saddam Hussein had accepted the UN terms for military withdrawal from Kuwait to end his occupation, but US rulers did not allow him to do so. There was a simple reason for this:  A peaceful withdrawal of Iraqi army from Kuwait would have left Saddam’s military power and military hardware intact. That was not acceptable to Washington and the Pentagon hawks. Therefore, they attacked and destroyed brutally the retreating and helpless Iraqi army.

General Colin Powell boasted of having killed so many encircled soldiers and burying many thousands of them alive in the desert. By such bravery, he must have added another medal to his uniform.  Saddam had no options left. The United States initiated and imposed sanctions on Iraq with the formal approval the United Nations. Incidentally, such a formal U.N. approval has the magic to make any major war crime by the US rulers legitimate! The United States has exploited this façade of the U.N. approval routinely.

We rightly condemn what happens at the hands of fanatic terrorists in Europe but when it comes to US wars and EU interventions in the Islamic countries,  we, who live in the western hemisphere,  show little concern over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people there.

In 2003, America took the second major step to invade and occupy Iraq.  This practically meant finishing off Iraq as a possible regional power if it ever raised its head at some future date. That was in consonance with the neocon strategy to have only one regional big power in the Middle East that was both strategically and politically indispensable part of U.S. hegemonic power and dominance. That regional power was and is Israel.Without an iota of credible ground or reason, President George W. Bush declared war on Iraq and invaded a vast secular Arab country, which did not let any religion or sect to interfere with the affairs of the state. After a massive destruction by the invaders of life, property and infrastructure in Iraq, President Bush became the eventual conqueror and master of Iraq and of its rich oil resources.

As a matter of imperial policy to divide and rule, the Americans started the sectarian favouritism that fuelled sectarian violence and killings. Even after the ‘nominal’ ending of the occupation, the fire of sectarian violence America had ignited to further its objectives is still raging on. Thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqis have died.

The forces of terror, revenge, religious sectarianism and fanaticism that American rulers unleashed in Iraq are out of control; no one is able to control them. Only the ordinary people of Iraq have become the victims of the genocidal war in Iraq. The mayhem and anarchy America created in Iraq has extended beyond the frontiers of Iraq.

Out of the ensuing chaos and instability in Iraq arose ISIS and its Islamist fanatics. ISIL is a direct result of US wars on Iraq. President Bush has said that God asked him to invade Iraq. If the killing of  hundreds of thousands of Iraqis can be  justified because of  listening to the command of God then ISIL can also invoke the support of the  same God for whatever they do or have plans to do! In fact, the US Constitution allowed for a democratic form of government, not a theocracy; ISIL, on the other hand, claims to be a theocracy and its administrative structure is that of a caliphate.  According to its way of interpreting, ISIS has ‘God on its side’.

Another major US imperial adventure was in Afghanistan. It is common knowledge that the United States was instrumental in creating and arming the Mujahidin to fight the Soviet army that had come to help the Afghan revolutionary government. After the Soviet leaders pulled their military from Afghanistan, the American-sponsored Mujahidin of 1980s became the Taliban, the new rulers of Afghanistan.

There is no doubt that the Soviet army suffered heavily in Afghanistan. The US imperialists, with the help of reactionary Saudi and Pakistani rulers and their well-equipped mercenary fighters crushed the Afghan revolution. In this way, they turned the clock of history back by empowering the primitive Mujahidin/Taliban. But that friendship did not last long.

In 2001, America attacked Afghanistan and ended the Taliban rule. The occupiers started a brutal suppression of the Afghans who had no quarrel with America at all. During their long Afghan war, Americans were not able to break the resistance of the Afghan patriots and the Taliban. They finally forced the occupiers to end their occupation. The puppet regime of the former president Karzai and now the present president Ghani have faced the consequences of the imperial invasion. The country suffered enormously and its people reduced to abject poverty and deprivation. At present, the Taliban are still there and fighting the Kabul government.

In short, countless millions of people have suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Whether we call it a civil war or war by proxy by regional powers, the war in Syria has reduced many cities to rubble. Hundreds of thousands have died.  Millions of Syrians have become homeless. They are trying to escape to any place where they can exist as normal human beings.

Other victims of wars from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and numerous other countries also join them in this quest for a safe haven in Europe. These people are in dire difficulties who need all the possible help. However, it is also important to underline the fact that Europe has no solution to the problems of millions of refugees and asylum seekers. Their number will keep on multiplying, not decreasing. Those who think otherwise live in a world of fantasy.

By attacking innocent civilians in France, Belgium and Turkey, ISIS is able to create a sense of insecurity and fear throughout Europe. No state or public authority can provide complete safeguards against any random attacks. There is no shortage of weapons in Europe or anywhere else. Those who want to commit any terrorist attack will be able to acquire any bombs or weapons they need.  It is a false hope that any intelligence agencies in an open society can stop all indoctrinated and ideologically motivated suicide bombers from their criminal behaviour.

Most of the western societies including Australia have become multi-cultural and multi-religious that have ethnic communities of Afro-Asian origin. Among the immigrant communities, strong social bonds exist through their tribal and religious identities. While the western societies have developed a more relaxed attitude towards their religions and deities, most of the immigrants have gone the other way. There is a strong tendency to adhere to the formal religious traditions where their clerics play a vital social role. Any terrorist attack has negative consequences for these people, especially the Muslims.  They become suspect merely because some Muslim terrorist has done something seriously wrong, somewhere. This strengthens cultural and social stereotypes.

– See more at: http://www.mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/57987-isis-attacks-in-brussels.html#sthash.TYCQ5Nod.dpuf

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Pentagon chief condemns European “pacifism”

February 26, 2010

By Bill Van Auken, wsws.org,  Feb 26, 2010

Amid growing fears in Washington that European powers may withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, just as the US escalates the war there, Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a speech blasting Europe for insufficient militarization and warning of a deepening crisis in the NATO alliance.

Gates gave the speech February 23 at Washington’s National Defense University, a training center for mid-level and senior US officers. His audience was a forum on the reworking of the “strategic concept”—essentially the mission statement—of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Continues >>

How Western anti-Muslim bigotry became respectable: The historic roots of a newly resilient ideology

January 6, 2010

By Şener Aktürk & Mujeeb R. Khan
Today’s Zaman
Tuesday, Jan 5, 2010

The Emin Minaret and Mosque in Turpan China, built in 1777

As scholars who work on the centuries-old Islamic presence in Europe and the continent’s first post-Holocaust genocide against, not coincidently, the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we were deeply disturbed but not surprised that an ostensibly tolerant and pluralistic Western democracy like Switzerland would vote by a margin of 57 percent to ban the religious symbol of 400,000 of its Muslim residents because they felt “threatened” by the grand total of four minarets that exist there.

Continues >>

Europe’s far right rises

November 13, 2009

Tom Walker, Red Pepper, Aug. 31, 2009

The British National Party will be joined in the European parliament by far-right parties from across the continent. But how much support are fascists and racists really picking up? Tom Walker investigates

The recent European elections saw all sorts of far-right parties making gains across the continent. They ranged from right-wing populists and nationalists to outright fascists and neo-Nazis. With no end to the recession in sight, and with social democratic parties often totally discredited, some on the left fear that we could all soon be crushed under the far right’s jackboots.

Continues >>

Europe’s Complicity in Evil

September 10, 2009

By Paul Craig Roberts, Information Clearing House, Sep 9, 2009

Address to Mut zur Ethik Conference, “Sovereignty or Imperialism,” Feldkirch, Austria,  September 5,  2009

There is is a widespread supposition that Obama, being black and a member of an oppressed race, will imbue US foreign policy with a higher morality than the world experienced from Bush and Clinton.  This is a delusion.

Obama represents the same ideology of American “exceptionalism” as other recent presidents.  This ideology designates the United States as The Virtuous Nation and supplies the basis for the belief that America has the right, indeed the responsibility, to impose its hegemony upon the world by bribery or by force.  The claim of American exceptionalism produces a form of patriotism that blinds the US population to the immorality of America’s wars of aggression.

Nothing is any different under Obama.  Obama has escalated war in Afghanistan; started a new war in Pakistan; tolerated or supported a military coup that overthrew the elected president of Honduras; is constructing 7 new US military bases in Colombia, South America; is going forward with various military projects designed to secure US global military hegemony, such as the Prompt Global Strike initiative that intends to provide the US with the capability to strike anywhere on earth within 60 minutes; is working to destabilize the government in Iran, with military attack still on the table as an option; supports America’s new military African Command; intends to encircle Russia with US bases in former constituent parts of the Soviet Union; has suborned NATO troops as mercenaries in US wars of aggression.

How should Europe react? Europe should disassociate from the United States and go into active opposition to US foreign policy.  Europeans should demand that their governments withdraw from NATO as it serves no European interest. The two aggressive militarist powers, the US and Israel, should be sanctioned by the UN and embargoed.  Instead, Europe is complicit in US and Israeli war crimes.

Because of the cold war, Europe is accustomed to following US leadership.  The financial convenience of the shelter provided by US military power negated independent European foreign policies.  In effect, Western European countries became US puppet states.

How does Europe escape from a subservient relationship of many decades?  Not easily.   The US is accustomed to calling the shots and reacts harshly when it meets opposition. For example, French opposition to Bush’s invasion of Iraq brought about instant demonization of France by the US media and members of Congress.

The US government uses financial sanctions and threatened leaks of sensitive personal information gathered by its worldwide spy networks to discipline any independent-minded European leader.

Europe is essentially captive and forced to put US interests ahead of its own.  Consequently, unless Europeans find their courage and discard their servile status, Europe will be badgered into more wars and eventually led into a devastating war with Russia.  One European country can do little, but concerted action would be effective.  For example, why do not Europeans protest that the war criminal Tony Blair was given a post in the EU?

The Obama administration’s attitude towards self-determination and the sovereignty of the people is that these grand-sounding concepts are useful platitudes with which to mask the hegemonic interests of the US government.  US money and propaganda foment “velvet” or “color” revolutions that turn more countries into American puppet states.

The platitudes are useful also to disguise the overthrow of US civil liberties, such as habeas corpus, due process, and prohibitions against torture and preemptive arrest.

During the cold war era, one of the mainstays of US propaganda against the Soviet Union was the inability of Soviet citizens to travel within their country without the government’s permission.  This indignity has now been inflicted upon US citizens. As of September, 2009, US citizens can no longer travel within their country by air without the permission of the Transport Security Administration.

The Obama administration has adopted the Bush administration’s search procedures. Under these rules travelers’ computers, cell phones, and other devices can be seized for searches that can take up to 30 days.  If you are on your way to a meeting and your presentation is on your computer and your contacts’ numbers are on your cell phone, you are out of luck.

“Terrorist threat” is the excuse for these Gestapo practices.  However, there have been no domestic acts of terrorism in 8 years.  The few “plots” that led to arrests were all instigated by FBI agents in order to keep the nonexistent threat alive in the public’s mind. Yet, despite any real terrorist threat the police state continues to gain ground. Considering the extent of America’s oppression of peoples abroad, one would expect much more blowback than has occurred, assuming that 9/11 was not itself an inside job designed to provide an excuse for America’s wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.

Europe must look beyond the empty American political rhetoric about “freedom and democracy” and recognize the emerging Brownshirt American State.  Democracy is slipping away from America.  Its place is being taken by an oligarchy of powerful interest groups, such as the financial sector, the military/security complex about which President Eisenhower warned, and AIPAC.  Political campaign contributions from interest groups determine the content of US domestic and foreign policy.  A country in which  political elites are above the law and can violate with impunity both laws against torture and constitutional protections of civil liberties is not a free country.

American political leaders and the American people need Europe’s help in order to avoid the degeneration of the American political entity.  American freedom, as well as sovereign independence elsewhere in the world, require criticisms of US foreign and domestic policies.  The US media, which was concentrated into a few hands during the Clinton administration, functions as a Ministry of Propaganda for the government.  It was the New York Times that gave credibility to the neoconservative propaganda and forged documents that were used to sell the invasion of Iraq to the public.  It was the New York Times that sat for one year on the evidence that the Bush administration was committing felonies by violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It was not until  after Bush was re-elected that the reporter was able to force his story through editorial opposition.  Americans need criticism from Europe to compensate for the absence of an independent American media. Americans need outside help in order to reach an understanding of the immorality of their government’s policies, because they receive no such help from their own media. Without Europe’s help, Americans cannot regain the spirit of liberty and tolerance bequeathed to them by their Founding Fathers.  America herself is a victim of the neoconservative and liberal internationalist pursuit of US hegemony.

We in America need to hear many voices telling us that it is self-defeating to become like an enemy in order to defeat an enemy. As Germans learned under Hitler and Russians learned under Stalin, it is the internal enemy–the unaccountable elite that controls a country’s government–that is the worst and most dangerous enemy.

If America has enemies who are against “freedom and democracy,” then America herself must make certain not to sacrifice her own civil liberties, and the sovereignty of other peoples, to a “war on terror.”  Acts of terror are a small cost compared to the cost of the erosion of civil liberties that took centuries to achieve.  Far more people died to achieve liberty than have died in terrorist attacks.

The United States cannot pretend to be a guarantor of liberty when the US government takes away liberty from its own citizens.

The United States cannot pretend to be a guarantor of peace and democracy when the US government uses deception to attack other lands on false pretenses.

Europe, whose culture was wrecked by 20th century wars,  Europe, which has experienced tyranny from the left-wing and from the right-wing, has a right to its own voice.

America needs to hear this voice.

Paul Craig Roberts

Hon. Paul Craig Roberts was educated at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Virginia, the University of California, Berkeley, and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College. Dr. Roberts has held numerous academic appointments, including Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University. Dr. Roberts served in the Congressional Staff in the House and Senate and was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Treasury by President Ronald Reagan. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1987. Dr. Roberts is author of ‘Alienation and the Soviet Economy’ and ‘The Supply-Side Revolution’. He is coauthor with Matthew Stephenson of ‘Marx’s Theory of Exchange, Alienation, and Crisis’. He is coauthor with Karen LaFollette Araujo of ‘Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy and ‘The Capitalist Revolution in Latin America’. He is coauthor with Lawrence Stratton of ‘The New Color Line’ and ‘The Tyranny of Good Intentions’. His latest book, ‘How The Economy Was Lost’, will be published by CounterPunch in October 2009. Dr. Roberts is a columnist for Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles.

RIGHTS: Muslims Under Scrutiny Despite Waning of ‘Terror War’

July 7, 2009

By Thalif Deen | Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 6 (IPS) – When the administration of President Barack Obama formally abandoned the longstanding U.S. “war on terror” – perceived by some as a codeword for “war against Islam” – there were hopes of a new relationship between the United States and the Muslim world after eight long years of political friction.

A significant shift in U.S. policy was also articulated by Obama when he told a predominantly Muslim audience in Egypt last month that “America is not – and never will be – at war with Islam.”

The sentiments he expressed, including an appeal for “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world”, were applauded globally.

But the ground realities, both in the United States and in Western Europe, have not caught up with the widespread political euphoria.

Continued >>

Torture: America’s policy, Europe’s shame

June 18, 2009

Jan Egeland, Mariano Aguirre| openDemocracy, June 17, 2009

The degrading treatment meted out to prisoners of the United States-led “war on terror” over seven years has yet to be subject to proper legal scrutiny and accountability. But the responsibility is Europe’s too, say Jan Egeland & Mariano Aguirre.

———————————————————-

In the very heart of the western world, Europe’s major ally has tortured prisoners to death – in an operation that we Europeans too were involved in. The fourteen “techniques” authorised by the George W Bush administration include semi-drowning (“waterboarding’), confinement in cramped and dark boxes, psychological torture and deprivation of sleep for up to eleven days and nights (see  Mark Danner, US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites” [New York Review of Books, 9 April & 30 April 2009]).

An undefined number of prisoners have died or committed suicide as a result of mistreatment in interrogation chambers run by the United States and its allies (the last one was a Yemeni in Guantánamo). It may be recalled that Japanese military jailors who employed these techniques during the second world war were adjudged war criminals by the US’s own military-legal experts.

This, to emphasise the point, is not about the despicable actions of some far-away dictator, nor the atrocities committed by Nazis and communists in Europe in the years of totalitarianism and genocide. No, these acts were part of a larger operation involving our own western, liberal democracies. Europeans  were there – with troops, intelligence, logistics and funding – taking part in the “war on terror” that formed the backdrop to these war crimes. After the US secret services had been authorised to mistreat prisoners held in American custody, the CIA was allowed to undertake its “extraordinary renditions”: more than 1,000 flights, often with unnamed prisoners  (“unlawful combatants”) in a wide arc across European airspace – from Norway to Romania. Several countries (including Jordan and, again, Romania) granted permission for these prisoners to be interrogated and mistreated in local, US-administered prison camps.

In 2007, a majority of elected representative in the European parliament accused the governments of Europe of having concealed the details of what had happened in these cases. In fact, several countries did more than clandestinely transport and keep prisoners; they also delivered some of their own prisoners into the hands of the CIA. The transfer by the Swedish police in December 2001 of two Egyptian nationals, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zary – who later vanished into Egypt’s prison-camp system where torture flourishes – is but one example. Reports from both the European parliament and the Council of Europe have found that Europeans have accepted the perpetration of severe abuses in our own backyards that we were and are quick to condemn anywhere else.

When defenceless prisoners – some of them hardcore terrorists, others quite innocent men – were being beaten and humiliated by United States soldiers at Bagram air- base in Kabul, Europeans were close by: every day, our military and civilian forces in Afghanistan would drive past.

When the inner circles around President Bush were planning the torture – how to legitimise, explain and implement it in a network of prisons (some secret, others not) in Europe, the middle east and elsewhere – Europeans remained silent and loyal contributors to the “war against terror” in Afghanistan.

When clever American legal experts were arguing that the principles of international humanitarian law – the Geneva conventions, United Nations conventions, and of habeas corpus –were not applicable in this case of “our battle” against “our enemies”, Europe’s own parliamentarians and NGOS were urging international legal action against some leaders in the global south on the grounds that they had broken the very same principles.

The dark side

How could it be that these years of torture could unfold under Europeans’ very noses, in flagrant contradiction of our national constitutions, our penal codes, our international legal commitments – all without hearings being organised and investigative commissions appointed? Where were our legal experts, our auditors and our journalists? And where were we, the researchers and commentators who have written this? With the exception of rare voices in a few media and human-rights organisations, and a couple of politicians that denounced what had happened, Europe kept silent.

There are no excuses. What was being conceived, planned and perpetrated was hardly a secret, even before the New Yorker and other media published detailed descriptions of these war crimes and the deceit involved (see, for example, Jane Mayer, Outsourcing torture“, New Yorker, 14 February 2005), .After all, only days after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, Dick Cheney admitted that the US chief executive was willing to make the “war against terror” an ugly, dirty affair: in a primetime national broadcast, the US vice-president  announced that the secret services would be authorised to go over to the “dark side” (see Jane Mayer, The Dark Side [Vintage/Anchor, 2009]).

Such attitudes began around the same time to infect popular and even intellectual culture. The US television industry broadcast (from November 2001) the well-engineered TV drama series 24, about a federal agent who could not always afford to play by the rules. In episode after episode, the popular series indulged the lie that the torture of suspects was necessary in order to save the lives of innocents. The academic and pundit Michael Ignatieff– then director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, now the head of Canada’s main opposition party and the country’s likely next prime minister – was only the most high-profile of several intellectual who began to argue that torture is terrible but could in some circumstances be morally and politically justified (see Mariano Aguirre, “Exporting democracy, revising torture: the complex missions of Michael Ignatieff“, 15 July 2005).

So it was that the Bush-Cheney cabal could demolish the legacy of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  The United States’s first president banned all maltreatment of English prisoners during the during the war of independence (1775-83), forbidding his troops to “imitate the brutality of the British”. Its sixteenth president followed the same principle during the American civil war (1861-65). Both respected here the US’s declaration of independence (1776), based as it was and is on the prohibition of abuse of power, arbitrary arrest and torture.

The next step

Many political, military and administrative leaders were involved in the planning and execution of the “war on terror”; none has had to face legal prosecution for what went on in Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and other sites of documented torture. Almost without exception, it is low-level operatives who have faced prosecution, even though their crimes were committed under a system that was organised in and controlled from the topmost echelons of power in the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon (see Philip Gourevitch & Errol Morris, The Ballad of Abu Ghraib [Penguin, 2008]).

President Barack Obama – whose election by US citizens in 2008 is a turning-pointin this story – declared his intention to close for ever this dark chapter in the history of the United States. For that to happen, he must ensure that the legal process focuses on those who bear political and administrative responsibility. Chile and Argentina are among the countries which investigated and prosecuted those who had  ordered torture – so why not the United States? In addition, it is clear that the Guantánamo prison-camp must be shut down; but military tribunals that fail to comply with international standards of jurisprudence should also be closed.

The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed the abuse and neglect of the highest principles of leadership nurtured by western civilisation over centuries. In this light, it is wrong to see the actions of Bush, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their coterie in isolation (see Philippe Sands, Lawless World: Making and Breaking Global Rules [ Penguin, 2006]). For this is also a tale of colossal hypocrisy and worse on the part of Europe, in accepting and being complicit in depredations that violate its own deepest values.

The experience was allowed to unfold year by grim year. During this long  period, the European allies of the US – aware of the absence of legal protection for those nameless prisoners being transported for interrogation and torture at destinations known and unknown – appear to have done very little. Why?

What will be the next steps in bringing to justice those responsible? Thomas Hammarberg, commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe, has called on the council’s forty-seven member-states to provide the complete facts on what actually took place from 2001 to 2008, so that the guilty may be held to account. It cannot happen soon enough. For until it does, the enormous damage Europe has inflicted in these terrible years – not least on itself – can never be repaired.

This article was translated from Norwegian by Susan Høivik


Why Europe Won’t Fight America’s War

April 13, 2009

By Pat Buchanan | creators.com, April 10, 2009

“No one will say this publicly, but the true fact is we are all talking about our exit strategy from Afghanistan. We are getting out. It may take a couple of years, but we are all looking to get out.”

Thus did a “senior European diplomat” confide to The New York Times during Obama’s trip to Strasbourg.

Europe is bailing out on us. Afghanistan is to be America’s war.

During what the Times called a “fractious meeting,” NATO agreed to send 3,000 troops to provide security during the elections and 2,000 to train Afghan police. Thin gruel beside Obama’s commitment to double U.S. troop levels to 68,000.

Why won’t Europe fight?

Because Europe sees no threat from Afghanistan and no vital interest in a faraway country where NATO Europeans have not fought since the British Empire folded its tent long ago.

Al-Qaida did not attack Europe out of Afghanistan. America was attacked. Because, said Osama bin Laden in his “declaration of war,” America was occupying the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia, choking Muslim Iraq to death and providing Israel with the weapons to repress the Palestinians.

As Europe has no troops in Saudi Arabia, is exiting Iraq and backs a Palestinian state, Europeans figure, they are less likely to be attacked than if they are fighting and killing Muslims in Afghanistan.

Madrid and London were targeted for terror attacks, they believe, because Spain and Britain were George W. Bush’s strongest allies in Iraq. Britain, with a large Pakistani population, must be especially sensitive to U.S. Predator strikes in Pakistan.

Moreover, Europeans have had their fill of war.

In World War I alone, France, Germany and Russia each lost far more men killed than we have lost in all our wars put together. British losses in World War I were greater than America’s losses, North and South, in the Civil War. Her losses in World War II, from a nation with but a third of our population, were equal to ours. Where America ended that war as a superpower and leader of the Free World, Britain ended it bankrupt, broken, bereft of empire, sinking into socialism.

All of Europe’s empires are gone. All her great navies are gone. All her million-man armies are history. Her populations are all aging, shrinking and dying, as millions pour in from former colonies in the Third World to repopulate and Islamize the mother countries.

Because of Europe’s new “diversity,” any war fought in a Muslim land will inflame a large segment of Europe’s urban population.

Finally, NATO Europe knows there is no price to pay for malingering in NATO’s war in Afghanistan.

Europeans know America will take up the slack and do nothing about their refusal to send combat brigades.

For Europeans had us figured out a long time ago.

They sense that we need them more than they need us.

While NATO provides Europe with a security blanket, it provides America with what she cannot live without: a mission, a cause, a meaning to life.

Were the United States, in exasperation, to tell Europe, “We are pulling out of NATO, shutting down our bases and bringing our troops home because we are weary of doing all the heavy lifting, all the fighting and dying for freedom,” what would we do after we had departed and come home?

What would our foreign policy be?

What would be the need for our vaunted military-industrial complex, all those carriers, subs, tanks, and thousands of fighter planes and scores of bombers? What would happen to all the transatlantic conferences on NATO, all the think tanks here and in Europe devoted to allied security issues?

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the withdrawal of the Red Army from Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union, NATO’s mission was accomplished. As Sen. Richard Lugar said, NATO must “go out of area or out of business.”

NATO desperately did not want to go out of business. So, NATO went out of area, into Afghanistan. Now, with victory nowhere in sight, NATO is heading home. Will it go out of business?

Not likely. Too many rice bowls depend on keeping NATO alive.

You don’t give up the March of Dimes headquarters and fund-raising machinery just because Drs. Salk and Sabin found a cure for polio.

Again, one recalls, in those old World War II movies, the invariable scene where two G.I.s are smoking and talking.

“What are you gonna do, Joe, when this is all over?” one would ask.

Years ago, we had the answer.

Joe stayed in the Army. He couldn’t give it up. Soldiering is all he knew. Just like Uncle Sam. We can’t give up NATO because, if we do, we would no longer be the “indispensable nation,” the leader of the Free World.

And, if we’re not that, then who are we? And what would we do?

Patrick Buchanan is the author of the new book “Churchill, Hitler and ‘The Unnecessary War.” To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at http://www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

Invaders of the mind

February 28, 2009
James Buchan on how an intellectual infiltration helped to civilise us

The theory of permanent Muslim-Christian enmity, though it flourishes in the caves of Tora Bora and parts of the American academy, was long ago exploded by the historians. In this clear and well-written book, Jonathan Lyons delves into all sorts of musty corners to show how Arabic science percolated into the Latin world in the middle ages and helped civilise a rude society.

  1. The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization
  2. by Jonathan Lyons
  3. 248pp,
  4. Bloomsbury,
  5. £20
  1. Buy at the Guardian bookshop

He tells how Arab advances in astronomy, mathematics, engineering, navigation, geography, medicine, architecture, chemistry, gardening, finance and verse passed into Europe by way of the Crusader kingdoms, Sicily and Spain and prepared the ground for both the Renaissance and the scientific advances of the 16th and 17th centuries. This infiltration of ideas has left traces in our language, from alcohol, algebra and algorithm to the Arabic names of the bright stars Betelgeuse and Aldebaran.

With the fall of the Roman empire in the west, Europe lost touch with much of its classical inheritance and was isolated by the Arab invasions from the Byzantine empire where some ancient learning survived. Lyons recounts how early medieval Christendom was unable accurately to measure the time of day for monastic offices, or fix the date of Easter, while dogmatic schemes of scripture and hierarchy left little scope for natural science. Aristotle’s influence was confined to the logic and rhetoric of the schools. Bishop Isidore of Seville promulgated the idea that the Earth was flat.

In contrast, when the Arabs conquered Iraq in the first half of the seventh century AD, they came upon living schools of Hellenistic learning in natural science and medicine, along with Indian mathematics and astronomy that had come by way of Iran. Systematic reasoning, driven out of Muslim jurisprudence in favour of precedents from the Prophet’s life and conduct, found a new field of inquiry in ancient geography and cosmology. After the founding of Baghdad in AD762, the Abbasid caliphs established a library and a team of translators at the Beit al-Hikma, the “House of Wisdom” of Lyons’s title.

A famous early catalogue of Arabic books known as the Fihrist lists as many as 80 Greek authors in Arabic translation, chief among them Aristotle, the mathematician Euclid and the medical philosophers Hippocrates and Galen. For this natural philosophy, the Arabs coined the word falsafa, and called its practitioners falasifa. The great Arabic philosophers such as Ibn Sina in Iran (known in Latin Europe as Avicenna, who died in 1037) and Ibn Rushd in Spain (Averroes, who died in 1198) found ways of inserting Aristotelian natural philosophy and Ptolemaic cosmology into a scriptural monotheism, which was precisely what the Latins needed. As Lyons writes, “Arabic replaced Greek as the universal language of scientific inquiry”.

He begins with a vivid contrast. In 1109, 10 years after the Crusaders sacked Jerusalem and put Muslims, Jews and eastern Christians to the sword, Adelard of Bath, a well-born scholar, set off for Antioch not to kill Muslims but, as he put it, “to investigate the studies of the Arabs” (studia arabum). As so often in medieval biography, a few “facts” are made to work hard, and some scholars (though not Lyons) doubt Adelard ever mastered Arabic. Nonetheless, he is thought to have taken part in translations from Arabic of Euclid’s geometric system, the elements, and the astronomical tables of al-Khwarizmi, and composed such original works as On the Use of the Astrolabe. For Lyons, Adelard is the “first man of science”. Such was the prestige of Arabic learning in England, according to a startling passage here, that partisans of King Henry II, during the quarrel with Rome over Thomas Becket, threatened the king would convert to Islam.

The new learning spread. By the middle of the 12th century, Euclid and Pythagoras are arrayed with the Virgin on the west front of Chartres cathedral. Lyons summons up a world of itinerant scholars such as Michael Scot, who (in the words of one monk) “in Paris seek liberal arts, in Orléans classics, at Salerno medicine, at Toledo magic, but nowhere manners and morals”. Scot found his way to the Arabising court of one of the “baptised Sultans”, the Emperor Frederick II, where he translated Arabic commentaries on Aristotle and helped promote the great mathematician Leonardo of Pisa. Leonardo, generally known as Fibonacci, gave a systematic account of the Arab/Indian numerical system and “the sign 0, which the Arabs call zephyr”, or rather sifr – and which we call the zero.

For the orthodox, these men reeked of brimstone, and Dante placed Michael with the wizards in the eighth circle of hell. St Thomas Aquinas brought a measure of peace to the church, but the systems of Aristotle and Ptolemy became rigid and brittle till they shattered in the Copernican revolution of the 16th century.

Why Muslim science and medicine remained in their medieval state in certain regions well into our lifetimes belongs to another book. For all Lyons’s wonder and admiration, the falasifa were always out of the mainstream of Muslim thought; they are best understood as a sort of sect, like the Shia, and were just as vulnerable to charges of heresy. The only small blemish in this fine book is that Lyons has printed a beautiful page of al-Biruni’s Arabic treatise on mathematics back to front, so the text can only be read in a mirror.

• James Buchan’s latest novel is The Gate of Air, published by Maclehose Press.

Antisemitism and Islamophobia rising across Europe, survey finds

September 18, 2008

Antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise across Europe, according to a survey of global opinion released yesterday.

In contrast to the US and Britain where unfavourable opinion of Jews has been stable and low for several years at between 7 and 9%, the Pew Survey of Global Attitudes found that hostile attitudes to Jews were rising all across continental Europe from Russia and Poland in the east to Spain and France in the west.

The survey found that suspicion of Muslims in Europe was considerably higher than hostility to Jews, but that the increase in antisemitism had taken place much more rapidly.

“Great Britain stands out as the only European country included in the survey where there has not been a substantial increase in antisemitic attitudes,” the survey found.

Antisemitism has more than doubled in Spain over the past three years, with a rise from 21% to 46%, the survey of almost 25,000 people across 24 countries found, while more than one in three Poles and Russians also had unfavourable opinions of Jews.

In the same period antisemitism in Germany and France also rose – from 21% to 25% in Germany and from 12% to 20% in France among those saying they had unfavourable opinions of Jews.

“Opinions of Muslims in almost all of these countries was were more negative than are views of Jews,” analysts said. While Americans and Britons displayed the lowest levels of antisemitism, one in four in both countries were hostile to Muslims.

Such Islamophobia was lower than in the rest of Europe. More than half of Spaniards and half of Germans said that they did not like Muslims and the figures for Poland and France were 46% and 38% for those holding unfavourable opinions of Muslims.

People who were antisemitic were likely also to be Islamophobes. Prejudice was marked among older generations and appeared to be class based. People over 50 and of low education were more likely to be prejudiced.


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