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Sticking Our Heads in the Sand Won’t Eliminate Islam or Make the Muslim Threat to Civilization Go Away

Sadly, I am not shocked or surprised that the talking heads on TV and most politicians are expressing shock and dismay over the brutal attacks in France and are not admitting that the problem is Islam. They are even afraid, apparently, to mention that word, along with Muslim. We hear about attacks from terrorists. We hear about attacks from extremists. Occasionally, one or two of the braver ones utter the term “Jihadist terrorist”, but that is about as close as they get to using the terms Islam or Muslim. But, as anyone with half a brain knows, these attacks were not perpetrated by Catholic Nuns or Buddhist monks. They were perpetrated by Muslims; Muslims that firmly believe in the teachings of the Koran. Muslims who take their “religion” seriously, unlike most Christians, who pick and choose the parts of the Bible that they choose to follow.

And, we know that the Muslims who belong to ISIS have said that they fully intend to conquer the world and make sharia law the law of the land. And, if you know anything about Islam, you know that a Caliphate is essential to its existence. And, you know that the Koran specifies brutality against “the unbelievers”. ISIS is doing, I’m sure, exactly what Mohammad would have done, although he would have been even more brutal and destructive. If we keep ignoring the cause of the problem, we can never hope to solve the problem. Even today, I hear politicians talking about imposing “interim” governments in countries like Syria that will be secular and usher in peace by establishing a secular democracy. WHAT???? Secularism is totally anathema to Muslims. Most Muslims want sharia law, including a majority of Muslims in the United States. In predominantly Muslim countries, like Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the percentage that want the barbaric, 7th century sharia law is much higher: 99% in Afghanistan, 91% in Iraq, and 74% in Egypt. No wonder our efforts to force democracy on those countries was a complete waste of time, money ($3 trillion), and lives (over 6840).   This is why the terrorist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, was voted into power  in Egypt, and why the terrorist organization Hamas was voted into power in Palestine. Oops! Once we realized that the Muslims wanted sharia, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas, we had to correct those situations. In Egypt, we put in another secular military dictatorship to be in charge of the country. This is the only way that most Muslim nations can be brought into the modern world; with strong, secular dictators that will keep things under control. People like Saddam Hussein, Mubarak, and Gaddafi are, unfortunately, required to rule most Muslim countries. Without them, we end up with the likes of ISIS.

Why is it that ISIS is growing in ranks and why is it that, if it is so terrible, we don’t see the armies of the Middle East massing against them and destroying them? It would be easy, especially when you realize how well equipped the various Muslim armies are, and how many soldiers they have. The reason is that many Muslims, especially Sunni Muslims, not only don’t have a real problem with ISIS, but they long for a Caliphate ruled by sharia law and a Caliph, rather than being forced to live under a secular democracy or dictatorship. As noted earlier,  according to a pole by the Center for Security Policy, 51% of Muslims in America, want sharia law, and 25% of American Muslims who were polled thought that “It is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam, by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohamed”! So much for “a tiny minority of extremists!” Why aren’t the politicians pointing out this fact and acting to crush, or at least severely limit, political Islam? If Hitler had declared Nazism a religion, and existed today, we would all be speaking German.

Why don’t Muslims integrate into Western civilization like non-Muslim immigrants? It is because they want nothing to do with secular democracy. They want their 7th century sharia, along with the mandated severe repression of women and second-class citizenship for non-Muslims.

I am shocked that we have not, yet, seen an attack like Mumbai or Paris in the United States. In fact, after we gave the Muslims 2500 SA-7 surface-to-air missiles in Libya in 2011, I predicted that we would see those turn up in the Western world. So far, they have not, although it looks like a Russian jet was shot down over the Sinai Peninsula by a missile. I know that the official story is that it was a bomb, and it might have been, but the fact that the Muslims had a video of the jet blowing up says to me that it was more likely a missile. They could have timed the bomb to blow up when the plane was over a place where a videographer was strategically placed, but that would have depended on flights being totally on time, or on them having videographers spread all over the Sinai Peninsula filming every plane that flew overhead. It could have been a bomb that blew up exactly on schedule in exactly the right place where it could be filmed, but I find a shoot down that was filmed much more likely. Of course, the shoulder fired SAMs that we gave to the Muslims in Libya could not have shot down the Russian airliner, but a Russian Buk missile could have. And, the Muslims have them in Libya and could have smuggled one or two into the Sinai Peninsula and one of those Russian made SAMs could have shot down the airliner.

Given the triviality of pulling off the Paris attacks, I suspect we will start seeing similar attacks in the United States and around the Western world. Perhaps they will start on Black Friday. If I was a Jihadist, which I am about as far from as you can imagine, that is what I would do. The only difference is that this is America and people are allowed (in most states) to defend themselves and carry weapons. Hopefully, when a Paris-like attack happens, there will be some armed Americans in the area that can take the terrorists out before they kill too many people. Of course, again, if I was a terrorist, I would plan to commit my atrocities in places like Illinois, California, New York, or New Jersey where the gun laws prevent the citizens from protecting themselves by being armed.

Of course, we don’t hear the talking heads or democrats (redundant, I know) asking how such an attack could have happened in France. After all, it is virtually impossible for people in France (or most of Europe) to own guns. They keep telling us that all we have to do to stop gun massacres is to restrict gun ownership. Oops, I guess that didn’t work.

What really worries me, however, is not Paris or Mumbai-like attacks. What I worry about is the threat posed to commercial aviation. While the 2500 SAMs that we gave the Muslims in Libya could not take out an aircraft at 30,000 feet, they could easily take out aircraft on approach or takeoff. If I was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, I would make an announcement to the effect that if all aggression against the Islamic State is not stopped by a certain date, then on the next day, 3 airliners will be shot down. Then, if all aggression is not stopped against the Islamic State in a week or so after that, 5 to 10 airliners will be shot down. This would, especially after the first 3 were shot down, cripple the Western economy. And, there would be nothing that could be done. All of the TSA security theater would be useless. (Which we all know it already is. Tests have shown that most weapons that test agents try to take onto airliners get through TSA inspections.) The only thing that could prevent the attacks would be the permanent grounding of all airlines.

Of course, if we had control of our borders, perhaps it would have been possible to stop the transfer of both the terrorists and the missiles into the United States. But, I am sure it is way too late to stop the weapons from entering our country, or other Western countries, and our moronic politicians are actually opening the doors to “refugees” from Syria and other Muslim nations. And, we know for a fact that at least one of the Paris attackers was an “asylum-seeker”. I’m sure hundreds of such terrorists have taken advantage of the insane asylum programs to infiltrate Western nations to attack us.

During WWII, we did not allow a flood of German and Japanese “asylum seekers” into the United States. We actually understood the enemy and were not afraid to name it. And, interestingly, we won that war. It was the last time the United States won a war. We will not win the war against Islam until we name the enemy and eliminate it. And, the only way to eliminate Islam is to isolate it and make being a Muslim so uncomfortable that the political aspect of Islam, known as sharia law, that is an integral part of Islam, will be eradicated. Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism have no political equivalent to sharia law and the other political and governing aspects of Islam. And this is why Islam is so dangerous and must be eliminated, or at least isolated from civilization. Why would we invite them into Europe or the United States where the culture, climate, and language is totally foreign to them? Why bring them into a civilization where most of them will never assimilate, or even want to assimilate? If they are to be treated to asylum, settle them in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations. At least there they will be like the others around them culturally and linguistically. And, Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations have money. The United States is a bankrupt nation with real unemployment near 25%. We can’t afford the immigration, especially since most immigrants from Syria have no marketable skills and will just further add to the unemployment and welfare roles. Maybe China could take them in. They have plenty of uninhabited cities that they have built recently and they would re-educate the Muslims about that insane and destructive ideology known as Islam.

An Empire Strikes Back: Germany and the Greek Crisis

By George Friedman

A desperate battle was fought last week. It pitted Germany and Greece against each other. Each country had everything at stake. Based on the deal that was agreed to, Germany forced a Greek capitulation. But it is far from clear that Greece can allow the agreement reached to be implemented, or that it has the national political will to do so. It is also not clear what its options are, especially given that the Greek people had backed Germany into a corner, where its only choice was to risk everything. It was not a good place for Greece to put the Germans. They struck back with vengeance.

The key event was the Greek referendum on the European Union’s demand for further austerity in exchange for infusions of cash to save the Greek banking system. The Syriza party had called the vote to strengthen its hand in dealing with the European demands. The Greek government’s view was that the European terms would save Greece from immediate disaster but at the cost of impoverishing the country in the long term. The austerity measures demanded would, in their view, make any sort of recovery impossible. Facing a choice between a short-term catastrophe in the banking system and long-term misery, the Greeks saw themselves in an impossible position.

In chess, when your position is hopeless, one solution is to knock over the chessboard. That is what the Greeks tried to do with the referendum. If the vote was lost, then the government could capitulate to German demands and claim it was the will of the people. But if the vote went the way it did, the Greek leaders could go to the European Union and argue that broad relaxation of austerity was not merely the position of the government, but also the sovereign will of the Greek people.

The European Union is founded on the dual principles of an irrevocable community of nations that have joined together but have retained their national sovereignty. The Greeks were demonstrating the national will, which the government thought would create a new chess game. Instead, the Germans chose to directly demand a cession of a significant portion of Greece’s sovereignty by creating a cadre of European bureaucrats who would oversee the implementation of the agreement and take control of Greek national assets for sale to raise money. The specifics are less important than the fact that Greece invoked its sovereign right, and Germany responded by enforcing an agreement that compelled the Greeks to cede those rights.

Germany’s Motivations

I’ve discussed the German fear extensively. Germany is a massive exporting power that depends on the European free trade zone to purchase a substantial part of its output. The Germans had a record positive balance of trade last month, of which its trade both in the eurozone as well as in the rest of the European Union was an indispensible part. For Germany, the unraveling of the European Union would directly threaten its national interest. The Greek position — particularly in the face of the Greek vote — could, in the not too distant future, result in that unraveling.

There were two sides of the Greek position that frightened the Germans. The first was that Athens was trying to use its national sovereignty to compel the European Union to allow Greece to avoid the pain of austerity. This would, in effect, shift the burden of the Greek debt from the Greeks to the European Union, which meant Germany. For the Germans, the bloc was an instrument of economic growth. If Germany accepted the principle that it had to assume responsibility for national financial problems, the European Union — which has more than a few countries with national financial problems — could drain German resources and undermine a core reason for the bloc, at least from the German point of view. If Greece demonstrated it could compel Germany to assume responsibility for the debt in the long term, it is not clear where it would have ended — and that is precisely what the Greek vote intended.

On the other hand, if the Greeks left the European Union, it would have created a precedent that would in the end shatter the bloc. If the European Union was an elective affinity, in Goethe’s words, something you could enter and then leave, then the long-term viability of the bloc was in serious doubt. And there was no reason those doubts couldn’t be extended to the free trade zone. If nations could withdraw from the European Union and create trade barriers, then Germany would be living in a world of tariffs, European and other. And that was the nightmare scenario for Germany.

The vote backed the Germans into a corner, as I said last week. Germany could not accept the Greek demand. It could not risk a Greek exit from the European Union. It could not appear to be frightened by an exit, and it could not be flexible. During the week, the Germans floated the idea of a temporary Greek exit from the euro. Greece owes a huge debt and needs to build its economy. What all this has to do with being in the euro or using the drachma is not clear. It is certainly not clear how it would have helped Europe or solved the immediate banking problem. The Greeks are broke, and don’t have the euros to pay back loans or liquefy the banking system. The same would have been true if they left the European Union. Suggesting a temporary Grexit was a fairly meaningless act — a bravura performance by the Germans. When you desperately fear something in a negotiation, there is no better strategy than to demand that it happen.

The Resurrection of German Primacy

I have deliberately used Germany rather than the European Union as the negotiating partner with the Greeks. The Germans have long been visible as the controlling entity of the European Union. This time, they made no bones about it. Nor did they make any bones about their ferocity. In effect they raised the banner of German primacy, German national interest, and German willingness to crush the opposition. The French and the Italians, among others, questioned the German position publicly. In the end, it didn’t matter. The Germans consulted with these other governments, but Berlin decided the negotiating position, because in the end it was Germany that would be most exposed by French or Italian moderation. This negotiation was in the context of the European Union, but it was a German negotiation.

And with this, the Germans did something they never wanted to do: resurrect fairly unambiguously the idea that Germany is the sovereign and dominant nation-state in Europe, and that it has the power and the will to unilaterally impose its will on another nation. Certainly the niceties of votes by finance ministers and prime ministers were adhered to, but it was the Germans who conducted the real negotiations and who imposed their will on Greece.

Germany’s historical position was that it was one nation among many in the European Union. One of the prime purposes of European integration was to embed Germany in a multinational European entity so that it could develop economically but not play the role in Europe that it did between 1871 and 1945. The key to this was making certain that Germany and France were completely aligned. The fear was that German economic growth would create a unilateral German political power, and the assumption was that a multilateral organization in which France and Germany were intimately bound together would enable German growth without risking German unilateral power.

No one wanted this solution to work more than the Germans, and many of Germany’s maneuvers were to save the multilateral entity. But in making these moves, Germany crossed two lines. The lesser line was that France and Germany were not linked on dealing with Greece, though they were not so far apart as to be even close to a breach. The second, and more serious, line was that the final negotiation was an exercise of unilateral German power. Several nations supported the German position from the beginning — particularly the Eastern European nations that, in addition to opposing Greece soaking up European money, do not trust Greece’s relationship with Russia. Germany had allies. But it also had major powers as opponents, and these were brushed aside.

These powerful opponents were brushed aside particularly on two issues. One was any temporary infusion of cash into Greek banks. The other was the German demand, in a more extreme way than ever before, that the Greeks cede fundamental sovereignty over their national economy and, in effect, over Greece itself. Germany demanded that Greece place itself under the supervision of a foreign EU monitoring force that, as Germany demonstrated in these negotiations, ultimately would be under German control.

The Germans did not want to do this, but what a nation wants to do and what it will do are two different things. What Germany wanted was Greek submission to greater austerity in return for support for its banking system. It was not the government’s position that troubled Germany the most, but the Greek referendum. If Germany forced the Greek government to capitulate, it was a conventional international negotiation. If it forced the government to capitulate in the face of the electoral mandate of the Greek public, it was in many ways an attack on national sovereignty, forcing a settlement not in opposition to the government but a direct confrontation with the electorate. The Germans could not accommodate the vote. They had to respond by demanding concessions on Greek sovereignty.

This is not over, of course. It is now up to the Greek government to implement its agreements, and it does so in the face of the Greek referendum. The situation in Greece is desperate because of the condition of the banking system. It was the pressure point that the Germans used to force Greek capitulation. But Greece is now facing not only austerity, but also foreign governance. The Germans’ position is they do not trust the Greeks. They do not mean the government now, but the Greek electorate. Therefore, they want monitoring and controls. This is reasonable from the German point of view, but it will be explosive to the Greeks.

The Potential for Continental Unease

In World War II, the Germans occupied Greece. As in much of the rest of Europe, the memory of that occupation is now in the country’s DNA. This will be seen as the return of German occupation, and opponents of the deal will certainly use that argument. The manner in which the deal was made and extended by the Germans to provide outside control will resurrect historical memories of German occupation. It has already started. The aggressive inflexibility of the Germans can be understood as an attitude motivated by German fears, but then Germany has always been a frightened country responding with bravado and self-confidence.

The point of the matter is not going away, and not only because the Greek response is unpredictable; poverty versus sovereignty is a heady issue, especially when the Greeks will both remain poor and lose some sovereignty. The Germans made an example of Cyprus and now Greece. The leading power of Europe will not underwrite defaulting debtors. It will demand political submission for what help is given. This is not a message that will be lost in Europe, whatever the anti-Greek feeling is now.

This is as far from what Germany wanted as can be imagined. But Greece could not live with German demands, and Germany could not live with Greek demands. In the end, the banking crisis gave Germany an irresistible tool. Now the circumstances demand that the Greeks accept austerity and transfer key elements of sovereignty to institutions under the control or heavy influence of the Germans.

What else could Germany do? What else could Greece do? The tragedy of geopolitical reality is that what will happen has little to do with what statesmen wanted when they started out.

An Empire Strikes Back: Germany and the Greek Crisis is republished with permission of Stratfor.

The Greek Vote and the EU Miscalculation

By George Friedman

In a result that should surprise no one, the Greeks voted to reject European demands for additional austerity measures as the price for providing funds to allow Greek banks to operate. There are three reasons this should have been no surprise. First, the ruling Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza party, is ruling because it has an understanding of the Greek mood. Second, the constant scorn and contempt that the European leadership heaped on the prime minister and finance minister convinced the Greeks not only that the scorn was meant for them as well but also that anyone so despised by the European leadership wasn’t all bad. Finally, and most important, the European leadership put the Greek voters in a position in which they had nothing to lose. The Greeks were left to choose between two forms of devastation — one that was immediate but possible to recover from, and one that was a longer-term strangulation with no exit.
The Europeans’ Mistaken Reasoning

As the International Monetary Fund noted (while maintaining a very hard line on Greece), the Greeks cannot repay their loans or escape from their economic nightmare without a substantial restructuring of the Greek debt, including significant debt forgiveness and a willingness to create a multidecade solution. The IMF also made clear that increased austerity, apart from posing an impossible burden for the Greeks, will actually retard either a Greek recovery or debt repayment.

The Greeks knew this as well. What was obvious is that austerity without radical restructuring would inevitably lead to default, if not now, then somewhere not too far down the line. Focusing on pensions made the Europeans appear tough but was actually quite foolish. All of the austerity measures demanded would not have provided nearly enough money to repay debts without restructuring. In due course, Greece would default, or the debt would be restructured.

Since Europe’s leaders are not stupid, it is important to understand the game they were playing. They knew perfectly well the austerity measures were between irrelevant and damaging to debt repayment. They insisted on this battle at this time because they thought they would win it, and it was important for them to get Greece to capitulate for broader reasons.

No other EU country is in a condition as bad as Greece’s. However, a number of EU countries, particularly in Southern Europe, carry a debt burden they would like to renegotiate. They are doing better than Greece this year, but with persistent high unemployment — for example, 22.5 percent in Spain as of May — two things are not clear: first, what shape these countries will be in next year or the year after that, and second, what governments would come into office, and what the new governments’ positions would be. Greece accounts for less than 2 percent of the European Union’s gross domestic product. Italy and Spain are far more important. The problem of restructuring debt is once it is done for one country, others will want to restructure as well. The European Union did not want to set any precedents for future crises or anti-EU governments.

In Greece, Europe’s leaders had a crisis and a hostile government. It was the perfect place to take a stand, they thought. They became inflexible on debt restructuring, demanding prior increased austerity measures in a country where unemployment exceeded 25 percent and youth unemployment was over 50 percent. The EU strategy in the past had been psychological: spreading fear about what default might mean, spreading fear of the consequences of leaving the eurozone and arguing that it was the European Union that lacked the ability to make concessions. In the past, the EU strategy had been to make agreements that it never thought the Greeks would be able to keep in order to kick the problem down the road. Europe’s leaders demanded austerity measures but tied them to postponing repayments. They expected Greece to continue playing the game. They did not realize, for some reason, that Syriza came to power on a pledge to end the game. They thought that under pressure, the party would fold.

But Syriza couldn’t fold, and not just for political reasons. If Syriza betrayed its election pledge, as the European leadership was sure it would, the party would split and a new anti-European party would form in Greece. But on a deeper level, the Greeks simply could not give any more. With their economy in shambles and Europe insisting that the solution was not stimulus but austerity — an increasingly dubious claim — the Greeks were at the point where default, and the short-term wrenching crisis that would ensue, would be worth the price.

The European leaders miscalculated. They thought Greece could be more flexible, and they wanted to demonstrate to any other country or party that might consider a similar maneuver in the future just what the cost would be. The Europeans feared the moral risk of compromising with the Greeks. They created a more dangerous situation for themselves.
New Threats to the European Union

First, in its treatment of Greece, the European Union has driven home — particularly to rising Euroskeptic parties — that it is merely a treaty organization and in no way a confederation, let alone a federation. Europe was a union so long as a member didn’t get into trouble. As I have said, the Greeks were irresponsible borrowing money. But the rest of Europe was irresponsible in lending it. Indeed, the banks that lent the money knew perfectly well the condition Greece was in. The idea that the Greeks pulled the wool over the bankers’ eyes is nonsense. The bankers wanted to make the loans because they made money off of transactions. Plus, European institutions that bought the loans from them bailed out those that made the loans. The people who made the loans sold them to third parties, and the third parties sold them to EU institutions. As for the Greeks, it was not the current government or the public that borrowed the money. And so the tale will help parties like Podemos in Spain and UKIP in the United Kingdom make the case against the European Union. The European Union appears both protective of banks and predatory to those who didn’t actually borrow.

Second, having played hardball, the Europeans must either continue the game, incurring the criticism discussed above, or offer a compromise they wouldn’t offer prior to the Greek vote. One would lead to a view of the European Union as a potential enemy of nations that fall on hard times, while the latter would cost the bloc credibility in showdowns to come. It is likely that the Europeans will continue discussions with Greece, but they will be playing with a much weaker hand. The Greek voters have, in effect, called their bluff.

It is interesting how the European leaders maneuvered themselves into this position. Part of it was that they could not imagine the Greek government not yielding to the European Union, Germany and the rest. Part of it was that they could not imagine the Greeks not understanding what default would mean to them.

The European leaders did not take the Greeks’ considerations seriously. For the Greeks, there were two issues. The first issue was how they would be more likely to get the deal they needed. It was not by begging but by convincing the Europeans they were ready to walk — a tactic anyone who has bargained in the eastern Mediterranean knows. Second, as any good bargainer knows, it is necessary to be prepared to walk and not simply bluff it. Syriza campaigned on the idea that Greece would not leave the eurozone but that the government would use a “no” vote on the referendum to negotiate a better deal with EU leaders. However, all political campaigns are subject to geopolitical realities, and Syriza needed all options on the table.

The EU leadership was convinced that the Greeks were bluffing, while the Greeks knew that with the stakes this high, they could not afford to bluff. But the Greeks also knew, from watching other countries, that while default would create a massive short-term liquidity crisis in Greece, with currency controls and a new currency under the control of the Greek government, it would be possible to move beyond the crisis before the sense of embattlement dissolves. Many countries do better in short, intense crises than they do in ordinary times. The Greeks repelled an Italian invasion in October 1940, and the Germans didn’t complete their conquest until May 1941. I have no idea what Greece’s short-term ability to rally is today, but Syriza is willing to bet on it.
Greece’s Options in Case of a Grexit

If Greece withdraws from the European Union, its impact on the euro will be trivial. There are those who claim that it would be catastrophic to the euro, but I don’t see why. What might be extremely dangerous is leaving the euro and surviving, if not flourishing. The Greeks are currently fixated on the European Union as a source of money, and there is an assumption that they will be forced out of the global financial markets if they default. But that isn’t obvious.

Greece has three alternative sources of money. The first is Russia. The Greeks and the Russians have had a relationship going back to at least the 1970s. It was quite irritating for the United States and Europe. It was quite real. Now the Russians are looking for leverage to use against the Europeans and Americans. The Russians are having hard times but not as hard as a couple of months ago, and Greece is a strategic prize. The Greeks and the Russians have talked and the results of the talks are murky. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit began July 6 in Russia, and the Greeks are sitting in as observers — and possibly angling for some sort of deal. Publicly, Russia has said it will not give a direct loan to Greece but will take advantage of the crisis to acquire hard assets in Greece and a commitment on the Turkish Stream pipeline project. However, bailing out Greece would give Russia a golden opportunity to put a spoke in NATO operations and reassert itself somewhere other than Ukraine. In Central Europe, the view is that Russia and Greece have had an understanding for several months about a bailout, which could be why the Greeks have acted with such bravado.

Another, though less likely, source of funds for Greece is China and some of its partners. The Chinese are trying to position themselves as a genuine global power, without a global military and with a weakening economy. Working alone or with others to help the Greeks would not be a foolish move on their part, given that it would certainly create regional influence at a relative low cost — mere tens of billions. However, it could come with the political cost of alienating a large portion of the European Union, making Chinese assistance a slight possibility.

Finally, there are American hedge funds and private equity firms. They are cash-rich because of European, Chinese and Middle Eastern money searching for safety and are facing near-zero percent interest rates. Many of them have taken wilder risks than this. The U.S. government might not discourage them, either, because it would be far more concerned about Russian or Chinese influence — and navies — in the eastern Mediterranean.

Having shed its debt to Europe and weathered the genuinely difficult months after default, Greece might be an interesting investment opportunity. We know from Argentina that when a country defaults, a wall is not created around it. Greece has value and, absent the debt, it is a high-risk but attractive investment.

The European leaders have therefore backed themselves into the corner they didn’t want. If they hold their position, then they open the door to the idea that there is life after the European Union, and that is the one thought the EU leaders do not want validated. Therefore, it is likely that the Europeans, having discovered that Syriza is not prepared to submit to European diktat, will now negotiate a deal Greece can accept. But then that is another precedent the European Union didn’t want to set.

Behind all this, the Germans are considering the future of the European Union. They are less concerned about the euro or Greek debt than they are about the free trade zone that absorbs part of their massive exports. With credit controls and default, Greece is one tiny market they lose. The last thing they want is for this to spread, or for Germany to be forced to pay for the privilege of saving it. In many ways, therefore, our eyes should shift from Greece to Germany. It is at the heart of the EU leadership, and it is going to be calling the next shot — not for the good of the bloc, but for the good of Germany, which is backed into the same corner as the rest of the European Union.

The Greek Vote and the EU Miscalculation is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Beyond the Greek Impasse

By George Friedman

The Greek situation — having perhaps outlived the term “crisis,” now that it has taken so long to unfold — appears to have finally reached its terminal point. This is, of course, an illusion: It has been at its terminal point for a long time.

The terminal point is the juncture where neither the Greeks nor the Germans can make any more concessions. In Greece itself, the terminal point is long past. Unemployment is at 26 percent, and more than 50 percent of youths under 25 are unemployed. Slashed wages, particularly in the state sector, affecting professions including physicians and engineers, have led to massive underemployment. Meanwhile, most new economic activity is occurring in the untaxable illegal markets. The Greeks owe money to EU institutions and the International Monetary Fund, all of which acquired bad Greek debts from banks that initially lent funds to Greece in order to stabilize its banking sector. No one ever really thought the Greeks could pay back these loans.

The European creditors — specifically, the Germans, who have really been the ones controlling European negotiations with the Greeks — reached their own terminal point more recently. The Germans are powerful but fragile. They export about a quarter of their gross domestic product to the European free trade zone, and anything that threatens this trade threatens Germany’s economy and social stability. Their goal has been to keep intact not only the euro, but also the free trade zone and Brussels’ power over the European economy.

Germany has so far avoided an extreme crisis point by coming to an endless series of agreements with Greece that the Greeks couldn’t keep and that no one expected them to keep, but which allowed Berlin to claim that the Greeks were capitulating to German demands for austerity. This alleged capitulation helped Germany keep other indebted European countries in line, as financially vulnerable nations witnessed the apparent folly of contemplating default, demanding debt restructuring and confronting rather than accommodating the European Union.
Greece and the Cypriot Situation

For the Germans, Greece represented a dam. What was behind the dam was unknown, and the Germans couldn’t tolerate the risk of it breaking. A Greek default would come with capital controls such as those seen in Cyprus, probably trade barriers designed to protect the Greek economy, and a radical reorientation of Greece in a new strategic direction. If that didn’t lead to economic and social catastrophe, then other European countries might also choose to exercise the Greek option. Germany’s first choice to avoid the default was to create the illusion of Greek compliance. Its second option was to demonstrate the painful consequences of Greece’s refusal to keep playing the first game.

This was the point of the Cyprus affair. Cyprus had reached the point that it simply could not live up to the terms of its debt repayment agreements. The pro-EU government agreed under pressure to seize money in bank accounts holding more than 100,000 euros (around $112,000) and use that money to make good on at least some of the payments due. But assigning a minimum account balance hardly served to lessen the blow or insulate ordinary Cypriots. A retiree, after all, may easily have more than 100,000 euros in savings. And hotels or energy service companies (which are critical to the Cypriot economy) certainly have that much in their accounts. The Germans may have claimed the Cypriot banking system contained primarily Russian money, but — although it undoubtedly contained plenty of Russian funds — most of the money in the system actually represented wealth saved and used by Cypriots in the course of their lives and business. The result of raiding those accounts was chaos. Cypriot companies couldn’t pay wages or rent, and the economy basically froze until the regulations were eventually eased — though they have never been fully repealed.

The Germans were walking a fine line in advocating this solution. Rather than play the pretend game they had played in Greece, they chose to show a European audience the consequences of genuine default. But those consequences rested on a dubious political foundation. Obviously the Cypriot public was devastated and appalled by their political leaders’ decision to comply with Germany’s demands. But even more significant, the message received by the rest of Europe was that the consequences of resistance would be catastrophic only if a country’s political leadership capitulated to EU demands. Seizing a large portion of Cypriot private assets to pay public debts set an example, but not the example the Germans wanted. It showed that compliance with debt repayments could be disastrous in the short run, but only if the indebted country’s politicians let it happen. And with that came another, unambiguous lesson: The punishment for non-compliance, however painful, was also survivable — and far preferable to the alternatives.
The Rise of Syriza

Enter the Coalition of the Radical Left party, known as Syriza, one of the numerous Euroskeptic parties that have emerged in recent years. Many forces combined to drive pro-EU factions out of power, but certainly one of them was the memory of the behavior of pro-EU politicians in Cyprus. The Greek public was well aware Athens would not be able to repay outstanding debt on anything even vaguely resembling the terms set by the pro-EU politicians. Cognizant of the Cypriot example, they voted their own EU-friendly leaders out, making room for a Euroskeptic administration.

Syriza ran on a platform basically committing to ease austerity in Greece, maintain critical social programs, and radically restructure the country’s debt obligations, insisting that creditors share more of the debt burden. EU-friendly parties and individuals — and the Germans in particular — tended to dismiss Syriza. They were used to dealing with pro-EU parties in debtor countries that would adopt a resistant posture for their public audience while still accepting the basic premise put forth by Germany and the European Union — that in the end, the responsibility to repay debts was the borrower’s. Regardless of their public platform, these parties therefore accepted austerity and the associated social costs.

Syriza, however, did not. A moral argument was underway, and the Germans were tone deaf to it. The German position on debt was that the borrower was morally responsible for it. Syriza countered that, in effect, the lender and the borrower actually shared moral responsibility. The borrower may be obligated to avoid incurring debts that he could not repay, but the lender, they argued, was also obligated to practice due diligence in not lending money to those who were unable to repay. Therefore, though the Greeks had been irresponsible for carelessly borrowing money, the European banks that originally funded Greece’s borrowing spree had also been irresponsible in allowing their greed to overwhelm their due diligence. And if, as the Germans have quietly claimed, Greek borrowers misled them, the Germans still deserved what happened to them, because they did not practice more rigorous oversight — they saw only euro signs, just as the bankers did when they signed off on loans to Greece rather than restraining themselves.

The story of Greece is a tale of irresponsible borrowing and irresponsible lending. Bankruptcy law in European and American culture is a system of dualities, where expectations for prudent behavior are placed on both the debtor and creditor. The debtor is expected to pay everything he can under the law, and when that is ability is expended, the creditor is effectively held morally responsible for his decision to lend. In other words, when the debtor goes bankrupt, the creditor loses his bet on the debtor, and the loan is extinguished.

But there are no bankruptcy laws for nation-states, because there is no sovereign power to administer them. Thus, there is no disinterested third party to adjudicate national bankruptcy. There are no sovereign laws dictating the point where a nation is unable to repay its debt, no overarching power that can grant them the freedom to restructure debts according to law. Nor are there any circumstances where the creditor is simply deemed out of luck.

Without these factors, something like the Greek situation emerges. The creditors ruthlessly pursue the debtor, demanding repayment as a first priority. Any restructuring of the debt is at the agreement of creditor and debtor. In the case of Cyprus, the government was prepared to protect the creditors’ interests. But in Greece’s case, Syriza is not prepared to do so. Nor is it prepared, if we believe what the party says, to simply continue crafting interim lies with the country’s creditors. Greece needs to move on from this situation, and another meaningless postponement only postpones the day of reckoning — and postpones recovery.
The Logic and Repercussions of a Grexit

A Greek withdrawal from the eurozone would make sense. It would create havoc in Greece for a while, but it would allow the Greeks to negotiate with Europe on equal terms. They would pay Europe back in drachmas priced at what the Greek Central Bank determines, and they could unilaterally determine the payments. The financial markets would be closed to them, but the Greeks would have the power to enact currency controls as well as trade regulations, turning their attention from selling to Europe, for example, to buying from and selling to Russia or the Middle East. This is not a promising future, but neither is the one Greece is heading toward now.

Many have made a claim that a Greek exit could lead the euro to collapse. This claim seems baffling at first. After all, Greece is a small country, and there is no reason why its actions would have such far-reaching effects on the shared currency. But then we remember Germany’s primordial fear: that Greece could set a precedent for the rest of Europe. This would be impossible if the rest of Europe was doing well, but it is not. Spain, for example, has unemployment figures almost as terrible as Greece’s. Some have pointed out that Spain is now one of the fastest-growing countries in Europe, which would be impressive if growth rates in the rest of Europe weren’t paralyzed. Similarly, Spain’s unemployment rate has fallen — to a mere 23 percent. Those who are still enthused about the European Union take such trivial improvements as proof of a radical shift. I see them as background noise in an ongoing train wreck.

The pain of a Greek default and a withdrawal from the eurozone would be severe. But if others see Greece as a forerunner of events, rather than an exception, they may calculate that the pain of unilateral debt restructuring makes sense and gives Greeks a currency that they can at last manage themselves. The fear is that Greece may depart from the euro, not because of any institutional collapse, but because of a keen awareness that sovereign currencies can benefit nations in pain — which many of Europe’s countries are.

I do appreciate that the European Union was meant to be more than an arena for debtors and creditors. It was to be a moral arena in which the historical agony of European warfare was abolished. But while the idea that European peace depends on prosperity may be true, that prosperity has been lost. Economies rise and fall, and Europe’s have done neither in tandem. Some are big winners, like Germany, and many are losers, to a greater or lesser degree. If the creation of a peaceful European civilization rests on prosperity, as the founding EU document claims, Europe is in trouble.

The problem is simple. The core institutions of the European Union have functioned not as adjudicators but as collection agents, and the Greeks have learned how ruthless those agents can be when aided by collaborative governments like Cyprus. The rest of the Europeans have also realized as much, which is why Euroskeptic parties are on the rise across the union. Germany, the country most threatened by growing anti-EU sentiment, wants to make clear that debtors face a high price for defiance. And if resistance is confined to Greece, the Germans will have succeeded. But if, as I think it will, resistance spreads to other countries, the revolt of the debtor states against the union will cause major problems for Germany, threatening the economic powerhouse’s relationship with the rest of Europe.

Beyond the Greek Impasse is republished with permission of Stratfor.

A Net Assessment of the Middle East

By George Friedman

The term “Middle East” has become enormously elastic. The name originated with the British Foreign Office in the 19th century. The British divided the region into the Near East, the area closest to the United Kingdom and most of North Africa; the Far East, which was east of British India; and the Middle East, which was between British India and the Near East. It was a useful model for organizing the British Foreign Office and important for the region as well, since the British — and to a lesser extent the French — defined not only the names of the region but also the states that emerged in the Near and Far East.

Today, the term Middle East, to the extent that it means anything, refers to the Muslim-dominated countries west of Afghanistan and along the North African shore. With the exception of Turkey and Iran, the region is predominantly Arab and predominantly Muslim. Within this region, the British created political entities that were modeled on European nation-states. The British shaped the Arabian Peninsula, which had been inhabited by tribes forming complex coalitions, into Saudi Arabia, a state based on one of these tribes, the Sauds. The British also created Iraq and crafted Egypt into a united monarchy. Quite independent of the British, Turkey and Iran shaped themselves into secular nation-states.

This defined the two fault lines of the Middle East. The first was between European secularism and Islam. The Cold War, when the Soviets involved themselves deeply in the region, accelerated the formation of this fault line. One part of the region was secular, socialist and built around the military. Another part, particularly focused on the Arabian Peninsula, was Islamist, traditionalist and royalist. The latter was pro-Western in general, and the former — particularly the Arab parts — was pro-Soviet. It was more complex than this, of course, but this distinction gives us a reasonable framework.

The second fault line was between the states that had been created and the underlying reality of the region. The states in Europe generally conformed to the definition of nations in the 20th century. The states created by the Europeans in the Middle East did not. There was something at a lower level and at a higher level. At the lower level were the tribes, clans and ethnic groups that not only made up the invented states but also were divided by the borders. The higher level was broad religious loyalties to Islam and to the major movements of Islam, Shiism and Suniism that laid a transnational claim on loyalty. Add to this the pan-Arab movement initiated by former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who argued that the Arab states should be united into a single Arab nation.

Any understanding of the Middle East must therefore begin with the creation of a new political geography after World War I that was superimposed on very different social and political realities and was an attempt to limit the authority of broader regional and ethnic groups. The solution that many states followed was to embrace secularism or traditionalism and use them as tools to manage both the subnational groupings and the claims of the broader religiosity. One unifying point was Israel, which all opposed. But even here it was more illusion than reality. The secular socialist states, such as Egypt and Syria, actively opposed Israel. The traditional royalist states, which were threatened by the secular socialists, saw an ally in Israel.
Aftershocks From the Soviet Collapse

Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the resulting collapse of support for the secular socialist states, the power of the traditional royalties surged. This was not simply a question of money, although these states did have money. It was also a question of values. The socialist secularist movement lost its backing and its credibility. Movements such as Fatah, based on socialist secularism — and Soviet support — lost power relative to emerging groups that embraced the only ideology left: Islam. There were tremendous cross currents in this process, but one of the things to remember was that many of the socialist secular states that had begun with great promise continued to survive, albeit without the power of a promise of a new world. Rulers like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Syria’s Bashar al Assad and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein remained in place. Where the movement had once held promise even if its leaders were corrupt, after the Soviet Union fell, the movement was simply corrupt.

The collapse of the Soviet Union energized Islam, both because the mujahideen defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan and because the alternative to Islam was left in tatters. Moreover, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait took place in parallel with the last days of the Soviet Union. Both countries are remnants of British diplomacy. The United States, having inherited the British role in the region, intervened to protect another British invention — Saudi Arabia — and to liberate Kuwait from Iraq. From the Western standpoint, this was necessary to stabilize the region. If a regional hegemon emerged and went unchallenged, the consequences could pyramid. Desert Storm appeared to be a simple and logical operation combining the anti-Soviet coalition with Arab countries.

The experience of defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan and the secular regimes’ loss of legitimacy opened the door to two processes. In one, the subnational groupings in the region came to see the existing regimes as powerful but illegitimate. In the other, the events in Afghanistan brought the idea of a pan-Islamic resurrection back to the fore. And in the Sunni world, which won the war in Afghanistan, the dynamism of Shiite Iran — which had usurped the position of politico-military spokesman for radical Islam — made the impetus for action clear.

There were three problems. First, the radicals needed to cast pan-Islamism in a historical context. The context was the transnational caliphate, a single political entity that would abolish existing states and align political reality with Islam. The radicals reached back to the Christian Crusades for historical context, and the United States — seen as the major Christian power after its crusade in Kuwait — became the target. Second, the pan-Islamists needed to demonstrate that the United States was both vulnerable and the enemy of Islam. Third, they had to use the subnational groups in various countries to build coalitions to overthrow what were seen as corrupt Muslim regimes, in both the secular and the traditionalist worlds.

The result was al Qaeda and its campaign to force the United States to launch a crusade in the Islamic world. Al Qaeda wanted to do this by carrying out actions that demonstrated American vulnerability and compelled U.S. action. If the United States did not act, it would enhance the image of American weakness; if it did act, it would demonstrate it was a crusader hostile to Islam. U.S. action would, in turn, spark uprisings against corrupt and hypocritical Muslim states, sweep aside European-imposed borders and set the stage for uprisings. The key was to demonstrate the weakness of the regimes and their complicity with the Americans.

This led to 9/11. In the short run, it appeared that the operation had failed. The United States reacted massively to the attacks, but no uprising occurred in the region, no regimes were toppled, and many Muslim regimes collaborated with the Americans. During this time, the Americans were able to wage an aggressive war against al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. In this first phase, the United States succeeded. But in the second phase, the United States, in its desire to reshape Iraq and Afghanistan — and other countries — internally, became caught up in the subnational conflicts. The Americans got involved in creating tactical solutions rather than confronting the strategic problem, which was that waging the war was causing national institutions in the region to collapse.

In destroying al Qaeda, the Americans created a bigger problem in three parts: First, they unleashed the subnational groups. Second, where they fought they created a vacuum that they couldn’t fill. Finally, in weakening the governments and empowering the subnational groups, they made a compelling argument for the caliphate as the only institution that could govern the Muslim world effectively and the only basis for resisting the United States and its allies. In other words, where al Qaeda failed to trigger a rising against corrupt governments, the United States managed to destroy or compromise a range of the same governments, opening the door to transnational Islam.

The Arab Spring was mistaken for a liberal democratic rising like 1989 in Eastern Europe. More than anything else, it was a rising by a pan-Islamic movement that largely failed to topple regimes and embroiled one, Syria, in a prolonged civil war. That conflict has a subnational component — various factions divided against each other that give the al Qaeda-derived Islamic State room to maneuver. It also provided a second impetus to the ideal of a caliphate. Not only were the pan-Islamists struggling against the American crusader, but they were fighting Shiite heretics — in service of the Sunni caliphate — as well. The Islamic State put into place the outcome that al Qaeda wanted in 2001, nearly 15 years later and, in addition to Syria and Iraq, with movements capable of sustained combat in other Islamic countries.
A New U.S. Strategy and Its Repercussions

Around this time, the United States was forced to change strategy. The Americans were capable of disrupting al Qaeda and destroying the Iraqi army. But the U.S. ability to occupy and pacify Iraq or Afghanistan was limited. The very factionalism that made it possible to achieve the first two goals made pacification impossible. Working with one group alienated another in an ongoing balancing act that left U.S. forces vulnerable to some faction motivated to wage war because of U.S. support for another. In Syria, where the secular government was confronting a range of secular and religious but not extremist forces, along with an emerging Islamic State, the Americans were unable to meld the factionalized non-Islamic State forces into a strategically effective force. Moreover, the United States could not make its peace with the al Assad government because of its repressive policies, and it was unable to confront the Islamic State with the forces available.

In a way, the center of the Middle East had been hollowed out and turned into a whirlpool of competing forces. Between the Lebanese and Iranian borders, the region had uncovered two things: First, it showed that the subnational forces were the actual reality of the region. Second, in obliterating the Syria-Iraq border, these forces and particularly the Islamic State had created a core element of the caliphate — a transnational power or, more precisely, one that transcended borders.

The American strategy became an infinitely more complex variation of President Ronald Reagan’s policy in the 1980s: Allow the warring forces to war. The Islamic State turned the fight into a war on Shiite heresy and on established nation states. The region is surrounded by four major powers: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey. Each has approached the situation differently. Each of these nations has internal factions, but each state has been able to act in spite of that. Put differently, three of them are non-Arab powers, and the one Arab power, Saudi Arabia, is perhaps the most concerned about internal threats.

For Iran, the danger of the Islamic State is that it would recreate an effective government in Baghdad that could threaten Iran again. Thus, Tehran has maintained support for the Iraqi Shiites and for the al Assad government, while trying to limit al Assad’s power.

For Saudi Arabia, which has aligned with Sunni radical forces in the past, the Islamic State represents an existential threat. Its call for a transnational Islamic movement has the potential to resonate with Saudis from the Wahhabi tradition. The Saudis, along with some other Gulf Cooperation Council members and Jordan, are afraid of Islamic State transnationalism but also of Shiite power in Iraq and Syria. Riyadh needs to contain the Islamic State without conceding the ground to the Shiites.

For the Israelis, the situation has been simultaneously outstanding and terrifying. It has been outstanding because it has pitted Israel’s enemies against each other. Al Assad’s government has in the past supported Hezbollah against Israel. The Islamic State represents a long-term threat to Israel. So long as they fought, Israel’s security would be enhanced. The problem is that in the end someone will win in Syria, and that force might be more dangerous than anything before it, particularly if the Islamic State ideology spreads to Palestine. Ultimately, al Assad is less dangerous than the Islamic State, which shows how bad the Israeli choice is in the long run.

It is the Turks — or at least the Turkish government that suffered a setback in the recently concluded parliamentary elections — who are the most difficult to understand. They are hostile to the al Assad government — so much so that they see the Islamic State as less of a threat. There are two ways to explain their view: One is that they expect the Islamic State to be defeated by the United States in the end and that involvement in Syria would stress the Turkish political system. The other is that they might be less averse than others in the region to the Islamic State’s winning. While the Turkish government has vigorously denied such charges, rumors of support to at least some factions of the Islamic State have persisted, suspicions in Western capitals linger, and alleged shipments of weaponry to unknown parties in Syria by the Turkish intelligence organization were a dominant theme in Turkey’s elections. This is incomprehensible, unless the Turks see the Islamic State as a movement that they can control in the end and that is paving the way for Turkish power in the region — or unless the Turks believe that a direct confrontation would lead to a backlash from the Islamic State in Turkey itself.
The Islamic State’s Role in the Region

The Islamic State represents a logical continuation of al Qaeda, which triggered both a sense of Islamic power and shaped the United States into a threat to Islam. The Islamic State created a military and political framework to exploit the situation al Qaeda created. Its military operations have been impressive, ranging from the seizure of Mosul to the taking of Ramadi and Palmyra. Islamic State fighters’ flexibility on the battlefield and ability to supply large numbers of forces in combat raises the question of where they got the resources and the training.

However, the bulk of Islamic State fighters are still trapped within their cauldron, surrounded by three hostile powers and an enigma. The hostile powers collaborate, but they also compete. The Israelis and the Saudis are talking. This is not new, but for both sides there is an urgency that wasn’t there in the past. The Iranian nuclear program is less important to the Americans than collaboration with Iran against the Islamic State. And the Saudis and other Gulf countries have forged an air capability used in Yemen that might be used elsewhere if needed.

It is likely that the cauldron will hold, so long as the Saudis are able to sustain their internal political stability. But the Islamic State has already spread beyond the cauldron — operating in Libya, for example. Many assume that these forces are Islamic State in name only — franchises, if you will. But the Islamic State does not behave like al Qaeda. It explicitly wants to create a caliphate, and that wish should not be dismissed. At the very least, it is operating with the kind of centralized command and control, on the strategic level, that makes it far more effective than other non-state forces we have seen.

Secularism in the Muslim world appears to be in terminal retreat. The two levels of struggle within that world are, at the top, Sunni versus Shiite, and at the base, complex and interacting factions. The Western world accepted domination of the region from the Ottomans and exercised it for almost a century. Now, the leading Western power lacks the force to pacify the Islamic world. Pacifying a billion people is beyond anyone’s capability. The Islamic State has taken al Qaeda’s ideology and is attempting to institutionalize it. The surrounding nations have limited options and a limited desire to collaborate. The global power lacks the resources to both defeat the Islamic State and control the insurgency that would follow. Other nations, such as Russia, are alarmed by the Islamic State’s spread among their own Muslim populations.

It is interesting to note that the fall of the Soviet Union set in motion the events we are seeing here. It is also interesting to note that the apparent defeat of al Qaeda opened the door for its logical successor, the Islamic State. The question at hand, then, is whether the four regional powers can and want to control the Islamic State. And at the heart of that question is the mystery of what Turkey has in mind, particularly as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power appears to be declining.

A Net Assessment of the Middle East is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Founding Member of Greenpeace Explains Why Alarmism About Climate Change Is Wrong

Dr. Patrick Moore was one of the founding members of Greenpeace. At one time, he was also the president of that organization. In this video, he explains why AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) alarmism is a scientific fraud and it is not happening to any significant degree. Notice, around 11 minutes, the graph that clearly shows that for the last billion years, it has been much warmer than it is today. The average global temperature, today, is about 14.5 degrees Centigrade. For most of the last billion years (or even 600 million years as shown in the graph at 12 minutes), the average global temperature has been about 22 degrees Centigrade. That is, for most of the last billion years, the average global temperature has been 7.5 degrees Centigrade warmer than it is today. Thus, we are currently coming out of another ice age, and we should expect much warmer temperatures in the future. But, those warmer temperatures are due to natural variability, not man-made CO2 emissions.

These graphs clearly show that it has been much warmer in the past, and there is no reason to think that any significant portion of the warming that is occurring now is due to CO2. Furthermore, as the graph of the last 600 million years shows, CO2 has been much, much higher in the past compared to where it is today, and there is absolutely no correlation between temperature and CO2. Other interesting graphs show how total global sea ice is actually higher, today, than it was when we started measuring it in 1979. Also, sea level rise essentially ended 7000 years ago, as shown in a graph at about 16:45 into the presentation.



Germanwings Crash: Was the Co-pilot a Muslim?

This whole Germanwings crash is extremely strange. From the beginning, it looked like a terrorist attach to me. The weather was excellent and there was no report of a problem with the aircraft. Why would a commercial airliner crash in such a case?

If there was something wrong with the airplane, there were several airports that could have easily been reached from their cruising altitude. Also, if there was something wrong with the aircraft, why would the crew have not called for help. They did not.

Next, why does the airline talk about the pilot, who had 6000 hours, but no information is given about the co-pilot? In all other crashes that I am familiar with, we always hear about both the pilot and co-pilot. The fact that we have a mysterious accident and the airline is absolutely not willing to talk about the co-pilot sounds suspicious.

Now, we hear that a pilot (or co-pilot) was apparently locked out of the cockpit. How could this happen? If a pilot leaves the cockpit, another crew member, usually a flight attendant, must be in the cockpit in case the pilot in command has a heart attack, stoke, or is otherwise incapacitated. The fact that we are now hearing that a pilot was locked out of the cockpit, and no other crew member was in the cockpit, says that either the pilots broke all of the rules or that someone wanted to take the plane down.

Add to this the fact that we have still not heard anything about the co-pilot, I am going to predict that either the pilot in the cockpit had mental, financial, or family issues that may have caused him or her to set up a suicide situation, or, perhaps, he was a Muslim and this was his jihad. At this point, I am guessing it was the latter. I hope I am wrong.

The World’s Muslims Must Resolve The Islamic State Issue

We keep hearing the constant beat of war drums in the Middle East. We keep hearing that we need to put “American boots on the ground” to crush the Islamic State. In reality, the last thing we need is another ill-advised war that we cannot possibly win in a part of the world that already hates us for bringing war and destruction to their countries for decades. Also, since our government is unwilling to name the enemy, political Islam, we cannot possibly win the war. What are we fighting? Who is the bad guy? How many tens of millions are we willing to kill to declare victory? What will victory look like? I maintain that the only real victory that would be acceptable to the civilized world would be the end of political Islam, and I don’t see that happening in the 21st century, unfortunately. And, we’re certainly not going to bring about that state of affairs with war. Only education can achieve that goal.

The Islamic State, just like the Taliban, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Jamaat al-Fuqra, Jamaat-ul_Mujahideen Bangladesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Abu Sayyaf Group, Boko Haram, Jemaah Islamiyah, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Ansar al-Sharia, al Nusra Front, Huthi militia, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Islamic Jihad Union, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Quds, Fatah, the Mulsim Brotherhood, and other terrorist organizations are really just Muslims that actually believe the crap that is in the Koran and hadith and live their lives accordingly. As Sam Harris so succinctly put it on the Bill Maher show, “Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas.” Graeme Wood explained the situation extremely well in his article “What ISIS Really Wants” in the March, 2015, Issue of The Atlantic.

Contrary to what we keep hearing on the lame stream media, Obama, and government talking puppets like Jen Psaki, the Islamic State is very Islamic. (As documented very well in Graeme Wood’s excellent article cited above.) They follow the teachings of Islam to the letter, with the exception of burning prisoners alive, which is not Islamic. (Burning people alive has, traditionally, been a Christian activity.) We hear how they behead people; that is what the Koran and hadith tell them to do. That is what Mohammad did. Koran 47:4:

So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds. (Sahih International translation)

They tell us that women in groups they conquer are sold into slavery and also become “sex slaves”. That is exactly what the Koran and hadith spell out. Koran 4:24

And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. (Sahih International translation.)

When the Koran says “….your right hands possess”, it is specifically referring to slaves taken in battle.

Other verses in the Koran and hadith that refer to sex slaves, and slaves in general, are shown, in part, below.

Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa’id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): O Abu Sa’id, did you hear Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-‘azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi’l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing ‘azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah’s Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born. (Sahih Muslim 8:3371)

Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani: A bedouin came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s apostle! I ask you by Allah to judge My case according to Allah’s Laws.” His opponent, who was more learned than he, said, “Yes, judge between us according to Allah’s Laws, and allow me to speak.” Allah’s Apostle said, “Speak.” He (i .e. the bedouin or the other man) said, “My son was working as a laborer for this (man) and he committed illegal sexual intercourse with his wife. The people told me that it was obligatory that my son should be stoned to death, so in lieu of that I ransomed my son by paying one hundred sheep and a slave girl. Then I asked the religious scholars about it, and they informed me that my son must be lashed one hundred lashes, and be exiled for one year, and the wife of this (man) must be stoned to death.” Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, I will judge between you according to Allah’s Laws. The slave-girl and the sheep are to be returned to you, your son is to receive a hundred lashes and be exiled for one year. You, Unais, go to the wife of this (man) and if she confesses her guilt, stone her to death.” Unais went to that woman next morning and she confessed. Allah’s Apostle ordered that she be stoned to death. (Sahih Bukhari 3:50:885)


In fact, as Memri pointed out, the Islamic State even published a pamphlet on female slaves and what their masters may do with them. Among other things, it says:

“Question 1: What is al-sabi?

“Al-Sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war] who has been captured by Muslims.

(Editorial note: the people of war means anyone that is not under the control of Islam.)

“Question 2: What makes al-sabi permissible?

“What makes al-sabi permissible [i.e., what makes it permissible to take such a woman captive] is [her] unbelief. Unbelieving [women] who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them [among us].”

“Question 3: Can all unbelieving women be taken captive?

“There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women [who are characterized by] original unbelief [kufr asli], such as the kitabiyat [women from among the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians] and polytheists. However, [the scholars] are disputed over [the issue of] capturing apostate women. The consensus leans towards forbidding it, though some people of knowledge think it permissible. We [ISIS] lean towards accepting the consensus…”

“Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?

“It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: ‘[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame [Koran 23:5-6]’…”

“Question 5: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession [of her]?

“If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, is she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first]…”

“Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?

“It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.”

(As regards Question 13, Mohammad married his favorite wife, Aisha, when she was 6. He consummated the marriage when she was 9. Ayatollah Khomeini, the person responsible for the Iranian revolution in 1979 and the leader of Iran until his death in 1989, married a 10 year old girl when he was 28. He later said that having a prepubescent wife was “a divine blessing.” In “modern” Afghanistan, most girls are married before the age of 15.)

So, the Islamic State, and other groups that we call terrorists, are actually just doing what they should be doing as “good Muslims”. Of course, just like I don’t believe that most Christians take their religion seriously, and thus don’t really believe the nonsense that is in the Bible about the flood, virgin birth, people being hundreds of years old, and the earth being less than 7000 years old, there are undoubtedly hundreds of millions of Muslims that don’t take Islam seriously. But, and here is the problem, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims that do take their religion seriously. Many polls have been taken that show that many Muslims prefer Sharia law to modern, secular law, and support such things stoning adulterers to death, cutting off the hands of thieves, and beheading or hanging homosexuals. While the media goes into a frenzy every time the Islamic State beheads one of their enemies, you don’t hear much about the fact that our “friend”, Saudi Arabia, beheaded over 59 people in 2014. Beheadings in Saudi Arabia are often for such crimes as sorcery, drug smuggling, adultery, and apostasy.

We hear that Iraqi solders threw down their weapons and ran when the Islamic State attacked Mosul. But, did they run for their lives, or did they run from a fight that they really did not want to fight? By that, I mean was the Islamic State so abhorrent to them that they would be willing to lay down their lives to fight it, or did they consider it nothing worth dying to destroy? The obvious answer to that question is no, they were not willing to die to destroy it. Also, why don’t we see hundreds of millions of Muslims, all over the world, running to the Middle East to join the Jordanians and others in the fight against the Islamic State? While I’m sure there are a few Muslims who went to the Middle East to join the almost non-existent fight against the Islamic State, there are many more Muslims, both male and female, rushing to the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State. While we, non-Muslims, logically consider members of the Islamic State and other other terrorist organizations to be sick, twisted individuals who revere an insane, epileptic, barbarian, misogynist, megalomaniac, pedophile named Mohammad and his sock-puppet Allah, that feeling is clearly does not prevail among the Muslims of the world.

As a somewhat absurd example, but to demonstrate my point, if we are to believe that a vast majority of Muslims find the Islamic State and other Muslim terrorist organizations to be despicable, then how did two or three thousand members of the Islamic State take over Mosul with its 2 million citizens? We are told that we need to put American boots on the ground to help a Muslim army to engage in  house to house fighting to free Mosul. This, to me, is a bit like being told that 2000 Neo-Nazis have taken over Munich, Germany, and we must send in troops to free the 1.7 million residents of Munich. I think the good people of Munich would quickly wipe out the Neo-Nazis. In fact, even though most citizens of Munich do not own firearms (unlike the citizens of Mosul), with a 1000:1 advantage, I am absolutely confident that the Germans would never allow such an atrocity to occur. Or, to think of the concept another way, what do you think would happen if 2000 homosexual atheists tried to take over Houston, Texas? Lets face it; it would not happen. Texans love their guns and religion too much to allow that to happen.

Lets stop all of this nonsense about how Islam is a “religion of peace”. Most of the wars in the world, today and for the last 20 years, revolve around Islam. And, lets remember that Islam and its slave trade was one of the first enemies that the United States faced. In fact, it was the Barbary Pirates that lead to the founding of the United States Navy in 1794. And, one of the first peace treaties entered into by the United States was the treaty of Tripoli, signed with the Muslim pirates on November 4, 1796.

Interestingly, Article 11 of that treaty specifically states:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

(The fact that the treaty was unanimously accepted by the United States Senate should put to rest the statements by some Americans that the United States is somehow a Christian nation. )

Of course, like most treaties with Muslims, as per Mohammad’s breaking of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, that treaty was broken and the United States navy had to fight several wars with the Muslims in the early 1800’s. So, being at war with Muslims is nothing new.

But, it is time for us to extricate ourselves from the constant warfare that has been a fact of life for Muslims since Mohammad invented Islam. If the Muslims truly find the Islamic State abhorrent and intolerable, then they must eliminate it. Lets face it, we have sold many of the Muslim nations in the Middle East tens of billions of dollars worth of arms; it is time for them to put those arms to good use. One of our problems is that we think every nation should be a liberal democracy. But, democracies don’t work, in general, with uneducated Muslims that have been brainwashed since infancy with Islam. In Islam, in fact, democracies are forbidden, because it means that direction is coming from people, not Allah. That is forbidden, or shirk. Also, to impose any system of law other than Sharia is forbidden, since Sharia is the law given by Allah. Any other laws are man-made, and thus forbidden, or shirk.

Lets look at the history of “democracy” in Muslim countries. We encouraged (and probably even instigated) the Arab Spring. What happened? Egyptians elected the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization. We insisted that the Palestinians vote for a government. They elected Hamas, a terrorist organization. We insisted on elections in Iraq. Iraq put into power a Shia government that was closely aligned with Iran, a terrorist nation. Since Shia are a minority in Iraq, and did their best to oppress the majority Sunni population, the Islamic State was born. As soon as we leave Afghanistan, the Taliban will take over again.

I was correct when I predicted, many times, a few years ago that the Arab Spring was going to end badly. I also correctly predicted that the new, “democratic” Libya, would become a terrorist haven. In fact, I even predicted the rise of a Caliphate. I was ridiculed, but it is happening in front of our eyes. The only detail where I was wrong was in predicting that Iran would lead the Caliphate. But, since Obama is giving Iran their atomic bomb, that terrible eventuality will probably, eventually, come about, although not until after Iran turns Israel into a nuclear waste dump.

No, the problem with the Islamic State is one for the Muslims to solve. I don’t believe that the Muslims really want to solve the problem, howver, if that means destroying it. I think a few hundred million Muslims (at least) would like to see the return of the Caliphate and everything that they think will come with it. Thus, there is no great will among hundreds of millions of Muslims to see the Islamic State destroyed.


A War Between Two Worlds

By George Friedman

The murders of cartoonists who made fun of Islam and of Jews shopping for their Sabbath meals by Islamists in Paris last week have galvanized the world. A galvanized world is always dangerous. Galvanized people can do careless things. It is in the extreme and emotion-laden moments that distance and coolness are most required. I am tempted to howl in rage. It is not my place to do so. My job is to try to dissect the event, place it in context and try to understand what has happened and why. From that, after the rage cools, plans for action can be made. Rage has its place, but actions must be taken with discipline and thought.

I have found that in thinking about things geopolitically, I can cool my own rage and find, if not meaning, at least explanation for events such as these. As it happens, my new book will be published on Jan. 27. Titled Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, it is about the unfolding failure of the great European experiment, the European Union, and the resurgence of European nationalism. It discusses the re-emerging borderlands and flashpoints of Europe and raises the possibility that Europe’s attempt to abolish conflict will fail. I mention this book because one chapter is on the Mediterranean borderland and the very old conflict between Islam and Christianity. Obviously this is a matter I have given some thought to, and I will draw on Flashpoints to begin making sense of the murderers and murdered, when I think of things in this way.

Let me begin by quoting from that chapter:

We’ve spoken of borderlands, and how they are both linked and divided. Here is a border sea, differing in many ways but sharing the basic characteristic of the borderland. Proximity separates as much as it divides. It facilitates trade, but also war. For Europe this is another frontier both familiar and profoundly alien.

Islam invaded Europe twice from the Mediterranean — first in Iberia, the second time in southeastern Europe, as well as nibbling at Sicily and elsewhere. Christianity invaded Islam multiple times, the first time in the Crusades and in the battle to expel the Muslims from Iberia. Then it forced the Turks back from central Europe. The Christians finally crossed the Mediterranean in the 19th century, taking control of large parts of North Africa. Each of these two religions wanted to dominate the other. Each seemed close to its goal. Neither was successful. What remains true is that Islam and Christianity were obsessed with each other from the first encounter. Like Rome and Egypt they traded with each other and made war on each other.

Christians and Muslims have been bitter enemies, battling for control of Iberia. Yet, lest we forget, they also have been allies: In the 16th century, Ottoman Turkey and Venice allied to control the Mediterranean. No single phrase can summarize the relationship between the two save perhaps this: It is rare that two religions might be so obsessed with each other and at the same time so ambivalent. This is an explosive mixture.

Migration, Multiculturalism and Ghettoization

The current crisis has its origins in the collapse of European hegemony over North Africa after World War II and the Europeans’ need for cheap labor. As a result of the way in which they ended their imperial relations, they were bound to allow the migration of Muslims into Europe, and the permeable borders of the European Union enabled them to settle where they chose. The Muslims, for their part, did not come to join in a cultural transformation. They came for work, and money, and for the simplest reasons. The Europeans’ appetite for cheap labor and the Muslims’ appetite for work combined to generate a massive movement of populations.

The matter was complicated by the fact that Europe was no longer simply Christian. Christianity had lost its hegemonic control over European culture over the previous centuries and had been joined, if not replaced, by a new doctrine of secularism. Secularism drew a radical distinction between public and private life, in which religion, in any traditional sense, was relegated to the private sphere with no hold over public life. There are many charms in secularism, in particular the freedom to believe what you will in private. But secularism also poses a public problem. There are those whose beliefs are so different from others’ beliefs that finding common ground in the public space is impossible. And then there are those for whom the very distinction between private and public is either meaningless or unacceptable. The complex contrivances of secularism have their charm, but not everyone is charmed.

Europe solved the problem with the weakening of Christianity that made the ancient battles between Christian factions meaningless. But they had invited in people who not only did not share the core doctrines of secularism, they rejected them. What Christianity had come to see as progress away from sectarian conflict, Muslims (and some Christians) may see as simply decadence, a weakening of faith and the loss of conviction.

There is here a question of what we mean when we speak of things like Christianity, Islam and secularism. There are more than a billion Christians and more than a billion Muslims and uncountable secularists who mix all things. It is difficult to decide what you mean when you say any of these words and easy to claim that anyone else’s meaning is (or is not) the right one. There is a built-in indeterminacy in our use of language that allows us to shift responsibility for actions in Paris away from a religion to a minor strand in a religion, or to the actions of only those who pulled the trigger. This is the universal problem of secularism, which eschews stereotyping. It leaves unclear who is to be held responsible for what. By devolving all responsibility on the individual, secularism tends to absolve nations and religions from responsibility.

This is not necessarily wrong, but it creates a tremendous practical problem. If no one but the gunmen and their immediate supporters are responsible for the action, and all others who share their faith are guiltless, you have made a defensible moral judgment. But as a practical matter, you have paralyzed your ability to defend yourselves. It is impossible to defend against random violence and impermissible to impose collective responsibility. As Europe has been for so long, its moral complexity has posed for it a problem it cannot easily solve. Not all Muslims — not even most Muslims — are responsible for this. But all who committed these acts were Muslims claiming to speak for Muslims. One might say this is a Muslim problem and then hold the Muslims responsible for solving it. But what happens if they don’t? And so the moral debate spins endlessly.

This dilemma is compounded by Europe’s hidden secret: The Europeans do not see Muslims from North Africa or Turkey as Europeans, nor do they intend to allow them to be Europeans. The European solution to their isolation is the concept of multiculturalism — on the surface a most liberal notion, and in practice, a movement for both cultural fragmentation and ghettoization. But behind this there is another problem, and it is also geopolitical. I say in Flashpoints that:

Multiculturalism and the entire immigrant enterprise faced another challenge. Europe was crowded. Unlike the United States, it didn’t have the room to incorporate millions of immigrants — certainly not on a permanent basis. Even with population numbers slowly declining, the increase in population, particularly in the more populous countries, was difficult to manage. The doctrine of multiculturalism naturally encouraged a degree of separatism. Culture implies a desire to live with your own people. Given the economic status of immigrants the world over, the inevitable exclusion that is perhaps unintentionally incorporated in multiculturalism and the desire of like to live with like, the Muslims found themselves living in extraordinarily crowded and squalid conditions. All around Paris there are high-rise apartment buildings housing and separating Muslims from the French, who live elsewhere.

These killings have nothing to do with poverty, of course. Newly arrived immigrants are always poor. That’s why they immigrate. And until they learn the language and customs of their new homes, they are always ghettoized and alien. It is the next generation that flows into the dominant culture. But the dirty secret of multiculturalism was that its consequence was to perpetuate Muslim isolation. And it was not the intention of Muslims to become Europeans, even if they could. They came to make money, not become French. The shallowness of the European postwar values system thereby becomes the horror show that occurred in Paris last week.

The Role of Ideology

But while the Europeans have particular issues with Islam, and have had them for more than 1,000 years, there is a more generalizable problem. Christianity has been sapped of its evangelical zeal and no longer uses the sword to kill and convert its enemies. At least parts of Islam retain that zeal. And saying that not all Muslims share this vision does not solve the problem. Enough Muslims share that fervency to endanger the lives of those they despise, and this tendency toward violence cannot be tolerated by either their Western targets or by Muslims who refuse to subscribe to a jihadist ideology. And there is no way to distinguish those who might kill from those who won’t. The Muslim community might be able to make this distinction, but a 25-year-old European or American policeman cannot. And the Muslims either can’t or won’t police themselves. Therefore, we are left in a state of war. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called this a war on radical Islam. If only they wore uniforms or bore distinctive birthmarks, then fighting only the radical Islamists would not be a problem. But Valls’ distinctions notwithstanding, the world can either accept periodic attacks, or see the entire Muslim community as a potential threat until proven otherwise. These are terrible choices, but history is filled with them. Calling for a war on radical Islamists is like calling for war on the followers of Jean-Paul Sartre. Exactly what do they look like?

The European inability to come to terms with the reality it has created for itself in this and other matters does not preclude the realization that wars involving troops are occurring in many Muslim countries. The situation is complex, and morality is merely another weapon for proving the other guilty and oneself guiltless. The geopolitical dimensions of Islam’s relationship with Europe, or India, or Thailand, or the United States, do not yield to moralizing.

Something must be done. I don’t know what needs to be done, but I suspect I know what is coming. First, if it is true that Islam is merely responding to crimes against it, those crimes are not new and certainly didn’t originate in the creation of Israel, the invasion of Iraq or recent events. This has been going on far longer than that. For instance, the Assassins were a secret Islamic order to make war on individuals they saw as Muslim heretics. There is nothing new in what is going on, and it will not end if peace comes to Iraq, Muslims occupy Kashmir or Israel is destroyed. Nor is secularism about to sweep the Islamic world. The Arab Spring was a Western fantasy that the collapse of communism in 1989 was repeating itself in the Islamic world with the same results. There are certainly Muslim liberals and secularists. However, they do not control events — no single group does — and it is the events, not the theory, that shape our lives.

Europe’s sense of nation is rooted in shared history, language, ethnicity and yes, in Christianity or its heir, secularism. Europe has no concept of the nation except for these things, and Muslims share in none of them. It is difficult to imagine another outcome save for another round of ghettoization and deportation. This is repulsive to the European sensibility now, but certainly not alien to European history. Unable to distinguish radical Muslims from other Muslims, Europe will increasingly and unintentionally move in this direction.

Paradoxically, this will be exactly what the radical Muslims want because it will strengthen their position in the Islamic world in general, and North Africa and Turkey in particular. But the alternative to not strengthening the radical Islamists is living with the threat of death if they are offended. And that is not going to be endured in Europe.

Perhaps a magic device will be found that will enable us to read the minds of people to determine what their ideology actually is. But given the offense many in the West have taken to governments reading emails, I doubt that they would allow this, particularly a few months from now when the murders and murderers are forgotten, and Europeans will convince themselves that the security apparatus is simply trying to oppress everyone. And of course, never minimize the oppressive potential of security forces.

The United States is different in this sense. It is an artificial regime, not a natural one. It was invented by our founders on certain principles and is open to anyone who embraces those principles. Europe’s nationalism is romantic, naturalistic. It depends on bonds that stretch back through time and cannot be easily broken. But the idea of shared principles other than their own is offensive to the religious everywhere, and at this moment in history, this aversion is most commonly present among Muslims. This is a truth that must be faced.

The Mediterranean borderland was a place of conflict well before Christianity and Islam existed. It will remain a place of conflict even if both lose their vigorous love of their own beliefs. It is an illusion to believe that conflicts rooted in geography can be abolished. It is also a mistake to be so philosophical as to disengage from the human fear of being killed at your desk for your ideas. We are entering a place that has no solutions. Such a place does have decisions, and all of the choices will be bad. What has to be done will be done, and those who refused to make choices will see themselves as more moral than those who did. There is a war, and like all wars, this one is very different from the last in the way it is prosecuted. But it is war nonetheless, and denying that is denying the obvious.

Editor’s Note: The newest book by Stratfor chairman and founder George Friedman, Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, will be released Jan. 27. It is now available for pre-order.

A War Between Two Worlds is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Gitmo Solution: Bullet To The Head

I’m sorry; a lot of people will disagree with this post. But, the only solution to the Gitmo problem is a bullet to the head of the detainees. What else can we do? We know that if we release them, they will almost certainly return to the battlefield. Catch and release only works with trout; not with Muslims.

Even a monster as abhorrent as the leader of the “Islamic State”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said, when released from prison, “…see you in New York”. This explains the situation that revolves around the Muslim barbarians like those in Gitmo. If we release them, they will almost certainly return to the battlefield to kill even more civilized people. If we simply put a bullet in their heads, they will not return to the battlefield, and we will no longer have to pay for their room-and-board.

Of course, there are a lot of stupid and uninformed people that will argue that we must give them their rights under the Geneva, and other, conventions. But, those protections DO NOT APPLY to the barbarians in Gitmo. They only apply to uniformed soldiers of a recognized country. The Muslims captured on the battlefield are not uniformed soldiers of a recognized government. The only way they can be categorized is as a “spy”. The only thing a spy is entitled to is a bullet to the head, or some other similarly quick death.

So, lets stop all the ridiculous posturing  that tries to save the lives of Muslim barbarians. Their lives are not only worthless, but they are harmful to the people that inhabit the civilized world.

Yes, close Gitmo. But, don’t set the Muslim barbarians free to kill again. Exterminate them.

All Media Must Publish All Mohammad Cartoons

I noticed that my page hits were going up rapidly, mostly because I have been outspoken in emphasizing that it is important to ridicule Islam, and especially Mohammad, because it is only by ridicule that we are going to discredit and eventually eliminate (or at least bring into the 19th century) Islam. (It will be generations before we bring them into a more modern time because they are so brainwashed, starting as children.) Lets face it, Muslims revere a 7th century, insane, epileptic, barbarian, misogynist, megalomaniac, pedophile named Mohammad and his sock puppet Allah.  The atrocity that occurred in France, today, was just another example of that fact.

The satirical magazine Charlie-Hebdo has been publishing satirical cartoons about Mohammed, Islam, and all other religions and religious characters for years. And, it is their absolute right to do so. If they, or anybody else, is stopped from publishing cartoons or satire, then free speech is dead and the civilized world is doomed. And, as I will point out later, Europe is especially threatened by Islam since they are even more politically correct than the United States and have catered to Muslim immigrants and  allowed them to live by themselves, in their own communities, without even making a token effort to assimilate into society.

Here are some of those cartoons from Charlie-Hebdo.






For these totally harmless cartoons, Muslims went, well, Muslim.


Hopefully, people will finally start admitting that Islam really is something that must be stamped out, and that the civilized world needs to stop bending over backward to avoid “offending” the perpetually offended. Lets face it, most wars in the world, today, are because of Islam. The United States has pissed away over $3 trillion dollars over the last 14 years, not to mention thousands of lives, fighting Islam. It is time we cut them off from the civilized world, make them live by our laws if they want to live in the Western world, and not tolerate their temper tantrums, violence, and barbarity.

It is also vital that the media publish as many of the cartoons as possible. Lets face it, the Piss Christ “art” exhibit did not cause death or rioting. Sure, it upset a few Christians, but they didn’t resort to violence. Oh, you did hear about that? The very fact that you did not hear about that is, itself, an indication that Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others, have learned to “grin and bear it”. Some even have a sense of humor about such things. Here is a picture of that “art”.

piss_christNow, imagine what would have happened if that “artist” had taken  a representation of Mohammad and put it in a bottle of his own urine, instead?! You know what would have happened, and what the Muslims would have claimed later.muslims_not_problem

Since I noticed about 10 times the normal volume on my site, today, and most of it was searching for the Mohammad cartoons published by Jyllands-Posten a few years ago, I thought I would make it easier for people and publish them again.

jyllands-posten-mohammedBut, since it is obviously necessary to start getting Muslims used to being ridiculed, just like the rest of us have been over the years, here are some more cartoons that I found, and published, over the years.

Muhammad in Hell; Dante's Inferno Canto 28, verses 30-31; Illustration by Gustave Dore Source: Gutenberg Project

Muhammad in Hell; Dante’s Inferno Canto 28, verses 30-31; Illustration by Gustave Dore Source: Gutenberg Project












And, for those of you that think that Muslims want to leave in peace in the civilized world and integrate into society like the rest of us did, I have two more cartoons for you.




And, as a final comment on Islam and the Koran.

mohammed_invents_new_religionLets all stand up for free speech and freedom of the press.


The US Government Must Buy, and Release on the Internet, “The Interview”

As much as I absolutely hate the idea of the bankrupt government spending any money, at all, since it is bankrupt and has no money, we have reached an extremely critical point in history with the total surrender of Sony and the United States government to a short, fat, insane dictator with bad hair in North Korea. The United States has lost every major war it entered, or started, since World War II. We cannot afford to lose the first cyber war, especially since it was launched by a clown like Kim Jong-Un.


We have faced many situations where loony people, and loony ideology, like that of the Muslims, has threatened civilization. In particular, I remember two disgraceful events that occurred over the last 10 years. In 2005 we had the atrocious situation where Muslims went, well, Muslim, when a few cartoons of Mohammed were released that the Muslims considered “disrespectful” of “the Prophet” (piss be upon him). Papers and magazines refused to publish the cartoons. Many people could not even understand what the fuss was about: “what cartoons”. I made sure to publish them on my sites, since there is no better weapon against insane ideologies, like Islam, than  satire and simply making fun of ludicrous beliefs. But, to make things ever more bizarre, Jytte Klausen wrote a book about the cartoon controversy that finally got published in 2009. It was published by Yale University Press, but they refused to include copies of the cartoons!!! How insane! First of all, how could anyone publish a book about the Mohammad cartoons that caused Muslims to commit insane acts of death, destruction, rioting and mahem, and not include the cartoons which were obviously the very reason for the book? The answer: COWARDICE and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. Both of these will get civilization destroyed!

Now, we have an ugly, insane, fat dictator whose family is responsible for the deaths of millions of people, and the miserable life condition of dozens of millions of other subjects, threatening the United States if Sony publishes a movie that makes fun of his assassination. The simple fact is that there are few people that deserve assassination more than Kim Jong-Un. The idea that we would capitulate to his demands is terrifying and absurd.

I understand why Sony caved. They might be legally liable if theatres were blown up by the North Koreans, or their minions, if the movie was shown. But, to not show the movie, for fear of an animal like Kim Jong-Un is inexcusable. We must make the movie available to anyone that wants to see it, including the poor subjects in North Korea. While I am against the government spending money, since it has none, I would fully support the US government buying the rights to this movie for, say, $60 million, and releasing it, for free on the internet. I have heard that Sony spent about $40 million for the movie. So, with this arrangement, they would make $20 million. Not a lot, but more than they will make if it is not shown. At the same time, the North Korean government, and specifically, Kim Jong-Un will be mocked and their threats will be dismissed. This is vital; their threats must not be tolerated or accepted.

Of course, if North Korea does anything further in the way of terrorizing or damaging the United States, then we must take further steps. And, we should make it clear that we will not tolerate threats or aggression on the part of North Korea or any other country. But, if we do not make this movie generally available, and spit in the eye of Kim Jong-Un, the future cost will be terrible, both in terms of what North Korea may do to us, as well as what other rogue regimes, like Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and ISIS may do to us in the future.


Sony Should Release “The Interview” Immediately to Cable, Internet, and DVD For Free

kim-jong-un-floppy-diskI can’t believe that Sony pictures caved to the barbaric demands of a dictator like Kim Jong-Un. It is sad to say, but it just shows how cowardly Obama is, and how having nuclear weapons gives you the power to do virtually anything. (And, this is exactly why North Korea stated they needed nuclear weapons.) And, we keep forgetting that a rogue nation like Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and another rogue nation like Iran almost certainly has nuclear weapons. (OK, the official government line is that Iran does not have nuclear weapons, but that is absurd. To believe that Iran does not have nuclear weapons, after 35 years of research and develop, is absurd. We developed a working bomb in less than 4 years, almost 70 years ago. If you believe that Iran still does not have a bomb, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Why do you think we have been letting up on the sanctions on Iran? We are afraid of them, which is exactly why countries like Iran and North Korea want nuclear weapons.)

Anyway, this fat, insane, tin-pot dictator with bad hair in North Korea does not like a movie about his assassination. So what?! Plenty of people don’t like movies that were made about them. And, I can’t think of a “leader” that is more deserving of being “taken out”. (Ok, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, also needs to be taken out, but he does not, yet (as far as I know) have nuclear weapons.) But, the idea that America is bowing to Kim’s demands is not only embarrassing, it is dangerous. Next, we will hear (backed by realistic force) demands from Putin. And, how about demands from ISIS. After all, there are something like 1.8 billion muslims, and at least 25 to 30% of them actually believe the crap in the Koran, and thus want a caliphate. Plus, many Muslims in countries like Egypt, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Pakistan have pledged allegiance to ISIS. (I predicted the new caliphate several years ago, during the height of the “Islamic Spring”, which I called the “Islamic Winter”).

It is scary to realize how far America has fallen. 60 years ago, we were the greatest nation on the earth. Now, we are a laughing stock, having lost virtually every war since WW2, and apparently unable to stand up to even a murdering moron like Kim Jung-Un. Rather than showing the movie in theatres, since North Korea has apparently threatened violence to the theatres if the movie is shown, Sony should release the movie to cable, tv, dvd, and the Internet immediately, and for free! After all, they have absolutely nothing to loose, financially, since they have said that they are not going to release it to theaters, DVD, or other commercial outlets, so releasing it for free would not cause a financial hit. But, by releasing it, immediately, or, better yet, on Christmas day as was originally planned, they would spit in the eye of boy Kim Jung-Un and America would show that it fears nobody. And, of course, if North Korea carries out attacks, then we should send their leaders to Hell with immediate tactical nuclear strikes.

Lets remember, if we had been smart, and used tactical nuclear weapons in Tora-Bora 13 years ago, we probably would not have had to piss away several trillions of dollars, and the lives of thousands of American soldiers, in Afghanistan. Everyone is terrified of tactical nuclear weapons, but they would have been perfect in Tora-Bora and other similar locations where there were no significant civilian populations within a few miles. (Yes, I said miles. Tactical nuclear weapons don’t destroy thousands of square miles, and kill everything within thousands of square miles of “ground-zero”.) If we had used tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan in the early 2000’s, we would have saved well over a trillion dollars and thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands if you include Muslims, of lives. And, bin Laden would have been dead a decade earlier. Of course, he might have been “vaporized”, rather than just double-tapped in the head, but he would have been dead. And, in either case, we would not have seen the evidence. And, as far as Afghanistan is concerned, now that we are leaving, it is clear that the Taliban are taking over, again, and it is retuning, full steam, to the Islamic hell that it was before 911. This is just the same as what happened in Iraq once we left, as I predicted.

It is time to either stand up as a proud America, or just give up and give in to the Muslims and communists.

How to Safely Deep Fry a Turkey: Use a Drone!

The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East

By George Friedman

Nuclear talks with Iran have failed to yield an agreement, but the deadline for a deal has been extended without a hitch. What would have been a significant crisis a year ago, replete with threats and anxiety, has been handled without drama or difficulty. This new response to yet another failure to reach an accord marks a shift in the relationship between the United States and Iran, a shift that can’t be understood without first considering the massive geopolitical shifts that have taken place in the Middle East, redefining the urgency of the nuclear issue.

These shifts are rooted in the emergence of the Islamic State. Ideologically, there is little difference between the Islamic State and other radical Islamic jihadist movements. But in terms of geographical presence, the Islamic State has set itself apart from the rest. While al Qaeda might have longed to take control of a significant nation-state, it primarily remained a sparse, if widespread, terrorist organization. It held no significant territory permanently; it was a movement, not a place. But the Islamic State, as its name suggests, is different. It sees itself as the kernel from which a transnational Islamic state should grow, and it has established itself in Syria and Iraq as a geographical entity. The group controls a roughly defined region in the two countries, and it has something of a conventional military, designed to defend and expand the state’s control. Thus far, whatever advances and reversals it has seen, the Islamic State has retained this character. While the group certainly funnels a substantial portion of its power into dispersed guerrilla formations and retains a significant regional terrorist apparatus, it remains something rather new for the region — an Islamist movement acting as a regional state.

It is unclear whether the Islamic State can survive. It is under attack by American aircraft, and the United States is attempting to create a coalition force that will attack and conquer it. It is also unclear whether the group can expand. The Islamic State appears to have reached its limits in Kurdistan, and the Iraqi army (which was badly defeated in the first stage of the Islamic State’s emergence) is showing some signs of being able to launch counteroffensives.

A New Territorial Threat

The Islamic State has created a vortex that has drawn in regional and global powers, redefining how they behave. The group’s presence is both novel and impossible to ignore because it is a territorial entity. Nations have been forced to readjust their policies and relations with each other as a result. We see this inside of Syria and Iraq. Damascus and Baghdad are not the only ones that need to deal with the Islamic State; other regional powers — Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia chief among them — need to recalculate their positions as well. A terrorist organization can inflict pain and cause turmoil, but it survives by remaining dispersed. The Islamic State has a terrorism element, but it is also a concentrated force that could potentially expand its territory. The group behaves geopolitically, and as long as it survives it poses a geopolitical challenge.

Within Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State represents elements of the Sunni Arab population. It has imposed itself on the Sunni Arab regions of Iraq, and although resistance to Islamic State power certainly exists among Sunnis, some resistance to any emergent state is inevitable. The Islamic State has managed to cope with this resistance so far. But the group also has pressed against the boundaries of the Kurdish and Shiite regions, and it has sought to create a geographical link with its forces in Syria, changing Iraq’s internal dynamic considerably. Where the Sunnis were once weak and dispersed, the Islamic State has now become a substantial force in the region north and west of Baghdad, posing a possible threat to Kurdish oil production and Iraqi governance. The group has had an even more complex effect in Syria, as it has weakened other groups resisting the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, thereby strengthening al Assad’s position while increasing its own power. This dynamic illustrates the geopolitical complexity of the Islamic State’s presence.

Countering with a Coalition

The United States withdrew from Iraq hoping that Baghdad, even if unable to govern its territory with a consistent level of authority, would nevertheless develop a balance of power in Iraq in which various degrees of autonomy, formal and informal, would be granted. It was an ambiguous goal, though not unattainable. But the emergence of the Islamic State upset the balance in Iraq dramatically, and initial weaknesses in Iraqi and Kurdish forces facing Islamic State fighters forced the United States to weigh the possibility of the group dominating large parts of Iraq and Syria. This situation posed a challenge that the United States could neither decline nor fully engage. Washington’s solution was to send aircraft and minimal ground forces to attack the Islamic State, while seeking to build a regional coalition that would act.

Today, the key to this coalition is Turkey. Ankara has become a substantial regional power. It has the largest economy and military in the region, and it is the most vulnerable to events in Syria and Iraq, which run along Turkey’s southern border. Ankara’s strategy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been to avoid conflicts with its neighbors, which it has been able to do successfully so far. The United States now wants Turkey to provide forces — particularly ground troops — to resist the Islamic State. Ankara has an interest in doing so, since Iraqi oil would help diversify its sources of energy and because it wants to keep the conflict from spilling into Turkey. The Turkish government has worked hard to keep the Syrian conflict outside its borders and to limit its own direct involvement in the civil war. Ankara also does not want the Islamic State to create pressure on Iraqi Kurds that could eventually spread to Turkish Kurds.

Turkey is in a difficult situation. If it intervenes against the Islamic State alongside the United States, its army will be tested in a way that it has not been tested since the Korean War, and the quality of its performance is uncertain. The risks are real, and victory is far from guaranteed. Turkey would be resuming the role it played in the Arab world during the Ottoman Empire, attempting to shape Arab politics in ways that it finds satisfactory. The United States did not do this well in Iraq, and there is no guarantee that Turkey would succeed either. In fact, Ankara could be drawn into a conflict with the Arab states from which it would not be able to withdraw as neatly as Washington did.

At the same time, instability to Turkey’s south and the emergence of a new territorial power in Syria and Iraq represent fundamental threats to Ankara. There are claims that the Turks secretly support the Islamic State, but I doubt this greatly. The Turks may be favorably inclined toward other Islamist groups, but the Islamic State is both dangerous and likely to draw pressure from the United States against any of its supporters. Still, the Turks will not simply do America’s bidding; Ankara has interests in Syria that do not mesh with those of the United States.

Turkey wants to see the al Assad regime toppled, but the United States is reluctant to do so for fear of opening the door to a Sunni jihadist regime (or at the very least, jihadist anarchy) that, with the Islamic State operational, would be impossible to shape. To some extent, the Turks are floating the al Assad issue as an excuse not to engage in the conflict. But Ankara wants al Assad gone and a pro-Turkey Sunni regime in his place. If the United States refuses to cede to this demand, Turkey has a basis for refusing to intervene; if the United States agrees, Turkey gets the outcome it wants in Syria, but at greater risk to Iraq. Thus the Islamic State has become the focal point of U.S.-Turkish ties, replacing prior issues such as Turkey’s relationship with Israel.

Iran’s Changing Regional Role

The emergence of the Islamic State has similarly redefined Iran’s posture in the region. Tehran sees a pro-Iranian, Shiite-dominated regime in Baghdad as critical to its interests, just as it sees its domination of southern Iraq as crucial. Iran fought a war with a Sunni-dominated Iraq in the 1980s, with devastating casualties; avoiding another such war is fundamental to Iranian national security policy. From Tehran’s point of view, the Islamic State has the ability to cripple the government in Baghdad and potentially unravel Iran’s position in Iraq. Though this is not the most likely outcome, it is a potential threat that Iran must counter.

Small Iranian formations have already formed in eastern Kurdistan, and Iranian personnel have piloted Iraqi aircraft in attacks on Islamic State positions. The mere possibility of the Islamic State dominating even parts of Iraq is unacceptable to Tehran, which aligns its interests with those of the United States. Both countries want the Islamic State broken. Both want the government in Baghdad to function. The Americans have no problem with Iran guaranteeing security in the south, and the Iranians have no objection to a pro-American Kurdistan so long as they continue to dominate southern oil flows.

Because of the Islamic State — as well as greater long-term trends — the United States and Iran have been drawn together by their common interests. There have been numerous reports of U.S.-Iranian military cooperation against the Islamic State, while the major issue dividing them (Iran’s nuclear program) has been marginalized. Monday’s announcement that no settlement had been reached in nuclear talks was followed by a calm extension of the deadline for agreement, and neither side threatened the other or gave any indication that the failure changed the general accommodation that has been reached. In our view, as we have always said, achieving a deliverable nuclear weapon is far more difficult than enriching uranium, and Iran is not an imminent nuclear power. That appears to have become the American position. Neither Washington nor Tehran wants to strain relations over the nuclear issue, which has been put on the back burner for now because of the Islamic State’s rise.

This new entente between the United States and Iran naturally alarms Saudi Arabia, the third major power in the region if only for its wealth and ability to finance political movements. Riyadh sees Tehran as a rival in the Persian Gulf that could potentially destabilize Saudi Arabia via its Shiite population. The Saudis also see the United States as the ultimate guarantor of their national security, even though they have been acting without Washington’s buy-in since the Arab Spring. Frightened by Iran’s warming relationship with the United States, Riyadh is also becoming increasingly concerned by America’s growing self-sufficiency in energy, which has dramatically reduced Saudi Arabia’s political importance to the United States.

There has been speculation that the Islamic State is being funded by Arabian powers, but it would be irrational for Riyadh to be funding the group. The stronger the Islamic State is, the firmer the ties between the United States and Iran become. Washington cannot live with a transnational caliphate that might become regionally powerful someday. The more of a threat the Islamic State becomes, the more Iran and the United States need each other, which runs completely counter to the Saudis’ security interests. Riyadh needs the tensions between the United States and Iran. Regardless of religious or ideological impulse, Tehran’s alliance with Washington forms an overwhelming force that threatens the Saudi regime’s survival. And the Islamic State has no love for the Saudi royal family. The caliphate can expand in Saudi Arabia’s direction, too, and we’ve already seen grassroots activity related to the Islamic State taking place inside the kingdom. Riyadh has been engaged in Iraq, and it must now try to strengthen Sunni forces other than the Islamic State quickly, so that the forces pushing Washington and Tehran together subside.

America’s Place at the Center of the Middle East

For Washington’s part, the Islamic State has shown that the idea of the United States simply leaving the region is unrealistic. At the same time, the United States will not engage in multidivisional warfare in Iraq. Washington failed to achieve a pro-American stability there the first time; it is unlikely to achieve it this time. U.S. air power applies significant force against the Islamic State and is a token of America’s power and presence — as well as its limits. The U.S. strategy of forming an alliance against the Islamic State is extremely complex, since the Turks do not want to be pulled into the fight without major concessions, the Iranians want reduced pressure on their nuclear programs in exchange for their help, and the Saudis are aware of the dangers posed by Iran.

What is noteworthy is the effect that the Islamic State has had on relationships in the region. The group’s emergence has once again placed the United States at the center of the regional system, and it has forced the three major Middle Eastern powers to redefine their relations with Washington in various ways. It has also revived the deepest fears of Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Ankara wants to avoid being drawn back into the late Ottoman nightmare of controlling Arabs, while Iran has been forced to realign itself with the United States to resist the rise of a Sunni Iraq and Saudi Arabia, as the Shah once had to do. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has raised Saudi fears of U.S. abandonment in favor of Iran, and the United States’ dread of re-engaging in Iraq has come to define all of its actions.

In the end, it is unlikely that the territorial Islamic State can survive. The truth is that Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia are all waiting for the United States to solve the Islamic State problem with air power and a few ground forces. These actions will not destroy the Islamic State, but they will break the group’s territorial coherence and force it to return to guerrilla tactics and terrorism. Indeed, this is already happening. But the group’s very existence, however temporary, has stunned the region into realizing that prior assumptions did not take into account current realities. Ankara will not be able to avoid increasing its involvement in the conflict; Tehran will have to live with the United States; and Riyadh will have to seriously consider its vulnerabilities. As for the United States, it can simply go home, even if the region is in chaos. But the others are already at home, and that is the point that the Islamic State has made abundantly clear.

“The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

On Obama and the Nature of Failed Presidencies

By George Friedman

We do not normally comment on domestic political affairs unless they affect international affairs. However, it is necessary to consider American political affairs because they are likely to have a particular effect on international relations. We have now entered the final phase of Barack Obama’s presidency, and like those of several other presidents since World War II, it is ending in what we call a state of failure. This is not a judgment on his presidency so much as on the political configuration within it and surrounding it.

The midterm elections are over, and Congress and the president are in gridlock. This in itself is not significant; presidents as popular as Dwight Eisenhower found themselves in this condition. The problem occurs when there is not only an institutional split but also a shift in underlying public opinion against the president. There are many more sophisticated analyses of public opinion on politics, but I have found it useful to use this predictive model.

Analyzing a President’s Strength

I assume that underneath all of the churning, about 40 percent of the electorate is committed to each party. Twenty percent is uncommitted, with half of those being indifferent to the outcome of politics and the other half being genuinely interested and undecided. In most normal conditions, the real battle between the parties — and by presidents — is to hold their own bases and take as much of the center as possible.

So long as a president is fighting for the center, his ability to govern remains intact. Thus, it is normal for a president to have a popularity rating that is less than 60 percent but more than 40 percent. When a president’s popularity rating falls substantially below 40 percent and remains there for an extended period of time, the dynamics of politics shift. The president is no longer battling for the center but is fighting to hold on to his own supporters — and he is failing to do so.

When the president’s support has fragmented to the point that he is fighting to recover his base, I considered that a failed presidency — particularly when Congress is in the hands of the opposition. His energy cannot be directed toward new initiatives. It is directed toward recovering his base. And presidents who have fallen into this condition near the end of their presidencies have not been likely to recover and regain the center.

Historically, when the president’s popularity rating has dipped to about 37 percent, his position has been unrecoverable. This is what happened to George W. Bush in 2006. It happened to Richard Nixon in 1974 when the Watergate crisis resulted in his resignation, and to Lyndon Johnson in 1967 during the Vietnam War. It also happened to Harry Truman in 1951, primarily because of the Korean War, and to Herbert Hoover before World War II because of the Great Depression.

However, this is not the final historical note on a presidency. Truman, enormously unpopular and unable to run for another term, is now widely regarded as one of the finest presidents the United States has had. Nixon, on the other hand, has never recovered. This is not therefore a judgment on Obama’s place in history, but simply on his current political condition. Nor does it take failure to lose the presidency; Jimmy Carter was defeated even though his popularity remained well in the 40s.

Obama’s Presidency

Of the five failed presidencies I’ve cited, one failed over scandal, one over the economy and three over wars — Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. Obama’s case is less clear than any. The 40 percent who gravitated to the opposition opposed him for a host of reasons. He lost the center for complex reasons as well. However, looking at the timing of his decline, the only intruding event that might have had that impact was the rise of the Islamic State and a sense, even in his own party, that he did not have an effective response to it. Historically, extended wars that the president did not appear to have a strategy for fighting have been devastating to the presidency. Woodrow Wilson’s war (World War I) was short and successful. Franklin Roosevelt’s war (World War II) was longer, and although it began in failure it became clear that a successful end was conceivable. The Korean, Vietnam and two Iraq wars suffered not from the length, but from the sense that the presidency did not have a war-ending strategy. Obama appears to me to have fallen into the political abyss because after six years he owned the war and appeared to have no grip on it.

Failure extends to domestic policy as well. The Republican-controlled legislature can pass whatever legislation it likes, but the president retains veto power, and two-thirds of both houses must vote to override. The problem is that given the president’s lack of popularity — and the fact that the presidency, all of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for re-election in two years — the president’s allies in Congress are not as willing to be held responsible for upholding his vetoes. Just as few Democrats wanted Obama campaigning for them, so too do few want to join the president in vetoing majority legislation. What broke Truman, Johnson and Nixon was the moment it became clear that their party’s leaders in Congress wanted them gone.

Acting Within Constraints

This does not mean that the president can’t act. It simply means that it is enormously more difficult to act than before. Gerald Ford, replacing Nixon but weakened by the pardoning of his predecessor, could not stop Congress from cutting off aid to South Vietnam during the final Communist assault. George W. Bush was able to launch the surge, but the surge was limited in size, not only because of strategic conditions but also because he had lost the ability to force Congress to fund alternative expansions of the war. In each of the failed presidencies, the president retained the ability to act but was constrained by the twin threats of an opposition-controlled Congress and his own party’s unwillingness to align with him.

At the same time, certain foreign diplomatic initiatives can continue. Nixon initiated negotiations between Egypt and Israel that culminated, under Carter’s administration, in the Camp David Accords. Truman tried to open negotiations with China, and the initiative’s failure had little to do with opposition to a negotiated settlement in Korea.

The president has few domestic options. Whatever Obama does with his power domestically, Congress can vote to cut funding, and if the act is vetoed, the president puts Congressional Democrats in mortal danger. The place where he can act — and this is likely the place Obama is least comfortable acting — is in foreign policy. There, the limited deployment of troops and diplomatic initiatives are possible.

Obama’s general strategy is to withdraw from existing conflicts in the Middle East and contain and limit Russian actions in Ukraine. The president has the ability to bring military and other pressure to bear. But the United States’ opponent is aware that the sitting president is no longer in control of Washington, that he has a specific date of termination and that the more unpopular things he does, the more likely his successor is to repudiate them. Therefore, in the China-North Korea model, the assumption is that that continuing the conflict and negotiating with the successor president is rational. In the same sense, Iran chose to wait for the election of Ronald Reagan rather than deal with Jimmy Carter (who was not a failed president).

This model depends on the opponent’s having the resources and the political will to continue the conflict in order to bargain with the president’s successor, and assumes that the successor will be more malleable. This is frequently the result, since the successor can make concessions more readily than his predecessor. In fact, he can make those concessions and gain points by blaming the need to concede on his predecessor. Ironically, Obama used this strategy after replacing George W. Bush. The failed president frequently tries to entice negotiation by increasing the military pressure on the enemy. Truman, Johnson and George W. Bush all took this path while seeking to end their wars. In no case did it work, but they had little to lose politically by trying.

Therefore, if we follow historical patterns, Obama will now proceed slowly and ineffectively to increase military operations in Syria and Iraq, while raising non-military pressure on Russia, or potentially initiating some low-level military activities in Ukraine. The actions will be designed to achieve a rapid negotiating process that will not happen. The presidency will shift to the other party, as it did with Truman, Johnson and George W. Bush. Thus, if patterns hold true, the Republicans will retake the presidency. This is not a pattern unknown to Congress, which means that the Democrats in the legislature will focus on running their own campaigns as far away from Obama and the next Democratic presidential candidate as possible.

The period of a failed presidency is therefore not a quiet time. The president is actively trying to save his legacy in the face of enormous domestic weakness. Other countries, particularly adversaries, see little reason to make concessions to failed presidents, preferring to deal with the next president instead. These adversaries then use military and political oppositions abroad to help shape the next U.S. presidential campaign in directions that are in their interests.

It is against this backdrop that all domestic activities take place. The president retains the veto, and if the president is careful he will be able to sustain it. Obama will engage in limited domestic politics, under heavy pressure from Congressional Democrats, confining himself to one or two things. His major activity will be coping with Syria, Iraq and Russia, both because of crises and the desire for a legacy. The last two years of a failed presidency are mostly about foreign policy and are not very pleasant to watch.

On Obama and the Nature of Failed Presidencies is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Where is the Muslim Outcry about ISIS and al Qaeda?

Of course, it is nowhere to be seen, because most Muslims are either in agreement with ISIS and al Qaeda, or afraid to admit that they object to their barbarity. Well, its time for them to be counted. Or, if they won’t be counted, it is time for us to eliminate Islam. Islam has always been a barbaric ideology based on the supposed sayings of an insane, epileptic, barbarian, misogynist, megalomanic, pedophile named Mohammed and his sock puppet Allah. It is time that the lame stream media admits that, and it is time that we stand up, as a civilized populace, against Islam. It was never a “religion of peace”, and it never will be. Maybe a religion of pieces, as in heads, hands, and other body parts, but not a “religion of peace”. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

Back in the 1980’s, we were told the lamestream media position that AIDS was an equal opportunity disease. But, the clear evidence was that it was almost exclusively a disease of gay men. Today, I hope, most people realize that AIDS is a disease of, primarily, gay men. (At least in the Western world.)

But, lets get back to ISIS. We hear virtually no objections to them by Muslims. We hear virtually nothing in the way of Western Imams speaking out against them. Of course, you would not expect that, since ISIS follows the teachings of Islam to the letter. Any “good” “Muslim” will want to support them, since their ideology insists on following the teachings of the Koran. And, they insist on the formation of the “Caliphate”, which is fundamental to Islam. We should not be surprised that Turkey does not support our goals; after all, it was Attiturk that gave up the Caliphate in the early 1900’s. Why would Turkey want to dismisss the Calibphate that is essential to the spread of Islam and Islam’s hope to rule the world. While Turkey should never have been allowed to join NATO, it must be kicked out of NATO today since its core values are diametrically opposed to those of NATO nations.

Oh, and in case you don’t know, Islam demands that it controls the world. All people must be either Muslims, or bow to Muslims and pay the jizya, (the poll tax that is imposed on all non-Muslim inhabitants of Muslim lands).

If Muslims are not willing to violently oppose ISIS, al Qadea, and the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood, HAMAS, Hezbollah, and other Muslim associations, Islam must be outlawed and destroyed in the modern world.


Evaluating Ebola as a Biological Weapon

By Scott Stewart

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had people at speaking engagements ask me if I thought the Islamic State or some other militant group is using Ebola as a biological weapon, or if such a group could do so in the future. Such questions and concerns are not surprising given the intense media hype that surrounds the disease, even though only one person has died from Ebola out of the three confirmed cases in the United States. The media hype about the threat posed by the Islamic State to the United States and the West is almost as bad. Both subjects of all this hype were combined into a tidy package on Oct. 20, when the Washington Post published an editorial by columnist Mark Thiessen in which he claimed it would be easy for a group such as the Islamic State to use Ebola in a terrorist attack. Despite Thiessen’s claims, using Ebola as a biological warfare agent is much more difficult than it might appear at first blush.

The 2014 Outbreak

In the past, there have been several outbreaks of Ebola in Africa. Countries included Sudan, Uganda, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and several comparatively small outbreaks occurred in Gabon as well. In most cases, people who handled or ate animals infected with the disease started the outbreaks. “Bushmeat,” or portions of roasted meat from a variety of wild animals, is considered by many to be a delicacy in Africa, and in a continent where hunger is widespread, it is also a necessity for many hungry people. After several months of medical investigations, epidemiologists believe the current outbreak most likely began when a two-year-old child in Guinea touched or perhaps ate part of an infected animal such as a bat or monkey.

The source of the disease means it is highly unlikely that some malevolent actor intentionally caused the latest outbreak. Besides the fact that the current outbreak’s cause has been identified as a natural one, even if a transnational militant group such as the Islamic State was able to somehow develop an Ebola weapon, it would have chosen to deploy the weapon against a far more desirable target than a small village in Guinea. We would have seen the militants use their weapon in a location such as New York, Paris or London, or against their local enemies in Syria and Iraq.

As far as intent goes, there is very little doubt that such a group would employ a biological weapon. As we noted last month when there was increased talk about the Islamic State possibly weaponizing plague for a biological attack, terrorist attacks are intended to have a psychological impact that outweighs the physical damage they cause. The Islamic State itself has a long history of conducting brutal actions to foster panic.

In 2006 and 2007, the Islamic State’s predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq, included large quantities of chlorine in vehicle bombs deployed against U.S. and Iraqi troops in an attempt to produce mass casualties. The explosives in the vehicle bombs killed more people than the chlorine did, and after several unsuccessful attempts, al Qaeda in Iraq gave up on its chlorine bombings because the results were not worth the effort. Al Qaeda in Iraq also included chemical artillery rounds in improvised explosive devices used in attacks against American troops in Iraq on several occasions. Again, these attacks failed to produce mass casualties. Finally, according to human rights organizations, the Islamic State appears to have recently used some artillery rounds containing mustard gas against its enemies in Syria; the group presumably recovered the rounds from a former Saddam-era chemical weapons facility in Iraq or from Syrian stockpiles.

The problem, then, lies not with the Islamic State’s intent but instead with its capability to obtain and weaponize the Ebola virus. Creating a biological weapon is far more difficult than using a chemical such as chlorine or manufactured chemical munitions. Contrary to how the media frequently portrays them, biological weapons are not easy to obtain, they are not easy to deploy effectively and they do not always cause mass casualties.

The Difficulty of Weaponization

Ebola and terrorism are not new. Nor is the possibility of terrorist groups using the Ebola virus in an attack. As we have previously noted, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo attempted to obtain the Ebola virus as part of its biological warfare program. The group sent a medical team to Africa under the pretext of being aid workers with the intent of obtaining samples of the virus. It failed in that mission, but even if it had succeeded, the group would have faced the challenge of getting the sample back to its biological warfare laboratory in Japan. The Ebola virus is relatively fragile. Its lifetime on dry surfaces outside of a host is only a couple of hours, and while some studies have shown that the virus can survive on surfaces for days when still in bodily fluids, this requires ideal conditions that would be difficult to replicate during transport.

If the group had been able to get the virus back to its laboratory, it would have then faced the challenge of reproducing the Ebola virus with enough volume to be used in a large-scale biological warfare attack, similar to its failed attacks on Tokyo and other Japanese cities in which the group sprayed thousands of gallons of botulinum toxin and Anthrax spores. Reproducing the Ebola virus would present additional challenges because it is an extremely dangerous virus to work with. It has infected researchers, even when they were working in laboratories with advanced biosafety measures in place. Although Aum Shinrikyo had a large staff of trained scientists and a state-of-the-art biological weapons laboratory, it was still unable to effectively weaponize the virus.

The challenges Aum Shinrikyo’s biological weapons program faced would be multiplied for the Islamic State. Aum Shinrikyo operatives were given a great deal of operational freedom until their plans were discovered after the 1995 sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway. (The group’s previous biological weapons attacks were so unsuccessful that nobody knew they had been carried out until after its members were arrested and its chemical and biological weapons factories were raided.) Unlike the Japanese cult, the Islamic State’s every move is under heavy scrutiny by most of the world’s intelligence and security agencies. This means jihadist operatives would have far more difficulty assembling the personnel and equipment needed to construct a biological weapons laboratory. Since randomly encountering an infected Ebola patient would be unreliable, the group would have to travel to a country impacted by the outbreak. This would be a difficult task for the group to complete without drawing attention to itself. Furthermore, once group members reached the infected countries, they would have to enter quarantined areas of medical facilities, retrieve the samples and then escape the country unnoticed, since they could not count on randomly encountering an infected Ebola patient.

Even if Islamic State operatives were somehow able to accomplish all of this — without killing themselves in the process — Ebola is not an ideal biological warfare vector. The virus is hard to pass from person to person. In fact, on average, its basic reproductive rate (the average amount of people that are infected by an Ebola patient) is only between one and two people. There are far more infectious diseases such as measles, which has a basic reproductive rate of 12-18, or smallpox, which has a basic reproductive rate of five to seven. Even HIV, which is only passed via sexual contact or intravenous blood transmission, has a basic reproductive rate of two to five.

Ebola’s Weakness as a Weapon

The Ebola disease is also somewhat slow to take effect, and infected individuals do not become symptomatic and contagious for an average of 8-10 days. The disease’s full incubation period can last anywhere from two to 21 days. As a comparison, influenza, which can be transmitted as quickly as three days after being contracted, can be spread before symptoms begin showing. This means that an Ebola attack would take longer to spread and would be easier to contain because infected people would be easier to identify.

Besides the fact that Ebola can only be passed through the bodily fluids of a person showing symptoms at the time, the virus in those bodily fluids must also somehow bypass the protection of a person’s skin. The infectious fluid must enter the body through a cut or abrasion, or come into contact with the mucus membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth. This is different from more contagious viruses like measles and smallpox, which are airborne viruses and do not require any direct contact or transfer of bodily fluids. Additionally, the Ebola virus is quite fragile and sensitive to light, heat and low-humidity environments, and bleach and other common disinfectants can kill it. This means it is difficult to spread the virus by contaminating surfaces with it. The only way to infect a large amount of people with Ebola would be to spray them with a fluid containing the virus, something that would be difficult to do and easily detectable.

Thiessen’s piece suggested that the Islamic State might implement an attack strategy of infecting suicide operatives with Ebola and then having them blow themselves up in a crowded place, spraying people with infected bodily fluids. One problem with this scenario is that it would be extremely difficult to get an infected operative from the group’s laboratory to the United States without being detected. As we have discussed elsewhere, jihadist groups have struggled to get operatives to the West to conduct conventional terrorist attacks using guns and bombs, a constraint that would also affect their ability to deploy a biological weapon.

Even if a hostile group did mange to get an operative in place, it would still face several important obstacles. By the time Ebola patients are highly contagious, they are normally very ill and bedridden with high fever, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea, meaning they are not strong enough to walk into a crowded area. The heat and shock of the suicide device’s explosion would likely kill most of the virus. Anyone close enough to be exposed to the virus would also likely be injured by the blast and taken to a hospital, where they would then be quarantined and treated for the virus.

Biological weapons look great in the movies, but they are difficult and expensive to develop in real life. That is why we have rarely seen them used in terrorist attacks. As we have noted for a decade now, jihadists can kill far more people with far less expense and effort by utilizing traditional terrorist tactics, which makes the threat of a successful attack using the Ebola virus extremely unlikely.

Evaluating Ebola as a Biological Weapon is republished with permission of Stratfor.

A Week of Stunning Government Incompetence

OK, so do you moronic socialists and communists still think that your precious government and Obama will save you and protect you? Unless you have been stoned and unconscious (not unlikely) for the last week, it turns out that even the secret service has given up on doing their job of protecting the President. The week opened by allowing a “disabled” war veteran to jump over the fence, sprint across the lawn, and deck a member of the secret service. After that, he frolicked around the White House until he was subdued by an off duty secret service agent or two. Of course, when he jumped the fence and ran toward the White House, he should have been stopped, at least, by the dogs. But, they were not released. Why? One report was that they had attacked Obama’s dog. Another said that they could not be released because they might have attacked secret service officers. Excuse me, but this sounds like a problem for Cesar Milan, not an excuse for not stopping a potential Presidential murderer. To add insult to incompetence, the front door of the White House was unlocked. Why was the front door of the home of the most important person in the world unlocked? Don’t you lock your front door? Especially if you live in Washington D.C.? Stunning incompetence.

Then, we find out that the secret service allowed an armed man who was not cleared to be armed onto an elevator at the CDC with President Obama. WHAT?? Of course, the head of the secret service resigned and we are told that there is a deep political problem within the secret service. People who point out problems are censured. Sound familiar?? We hear this about virtually all federal agencies. But, when whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden take the story into their own hands, we are told that they are wrong and that they should have talked to their superiors about their issues. R-I-G-H-T.

Next, we hear that a person with Ebola was allowed to enter the country. Of course, the fact that this happened was inevitable and any person with even half a brain knew that it would happen. To highlight the total incompetence of the government in the case of Ebola, lets recall Obama’s statement at the CDC 2 weeks ago, on September 16, 2014:

First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low. We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home. We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.

Wow. How did that work out?!? Incompetence!!! (I hope. Some would say it is intentional; I’m not quite that cynical, yet.)

When this clown arrived, he was given antibiotics by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital and sent home! Here is a guy from West Africa who reports with clear symptoms of Ebola. Here is a guy who handled a woman that died of Ebola a few days earlier. Here is the very poster boy for Ebola. Sent home. With an antibiotic. (Never mind the fact that antibiotics are worthless against a virus.) Then, two days later he shows up in an ambulance and is finally admitted. The result, as it stands at the moment, is that upward of 100 people may have been exposed to Ebola. While I don’t believe all of them will come down with Ebola, I am sure that at least 6 to 12 people will come down with Ebola. Some of them will die and some will probably infect others.

To further demonstrate the total incompetence of the government, as of 8:30 PM EDT, October 2, 2014, the bedsheets that the infected person slept on over 4 days ago are still in the apartment where he slept! Today, CNN showed someone in street clothes “disinfecting” the sidewalk where Thomas Eric Duncan vomited. We were told that the government was ready. Guess what? Just like with hurricane Katrina, tropical storm Sandy, and numerous other events, the government was not, and is not, ready to protect the citizens.

I hope all of you morons who believe in socialism and communism take note. I hope you really believe the government and Obama will protect and shield you. I know they won’t. But, as the shit hits the fan, I won’t be joining you in hoping for salvation by government. Good luck. I’m glad you won’t be my problems.


Did Liberian Ebola Patient Deliberately Come to America for Treatment?

We now know that Thomas Eric Duncan came to the United States with Ebola and he may have caused a major epidemic in the United States. Were we, as Americans, just unlucky, or was this a deliberate plot by Duncan to get treatment, no matter what the cost to other people? We now know that he lied at the airport in Liberia when he filled out a health questionnaire. It asked if he had had contact with anyone who had Ebola. He answered NO. But, we know that he helped a pregnant woman who had Ebola a few days before he left Liberia. She died. So, he lied on the document. Did he do that because he knew that he would probably get Ebola and that he would not get adequate (or any) treatment in Liberia and therefore went to the United States where he knew that he would get world class treatment? (Of course, the total incompetency of the CDC and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas were things that he could not have envisioned.)

I suspect this is a highly likely scenario. And, now he may have infected as many as 100 other people, although my personal opinion is that he will only have infected about 8 to 10 people. How many of them will die? How many of them will infect others? And, perhaps more importantly, how many other people from West Africa who can afford a plane ticket to a first world nation will lie to get on a plane and subject thousands, or even millions, of innocents to death by Ebola?