Friday, September 29, 2006

Face aux intimidations islamistes, que doit faire le monde libre ?
Robert Redeker (Philosophe. Professeur au lycée Pierre-Paul-Riquet à Saint-Orens de Gammeville. Va publier Dépression et philosophie (éditions Pleins Feux).

(Article non disponible sur www.lefigaro.fr apres une seance de baissage de froc de toute beaute et vaseline gratuite fournie par la redaction!)

Les réactions suscitées par l’analyse de Benoît XVI sur l’islam et la violence s’inscrivent dans la tentative menée par cet islam d’étouffer ce que l’Occident a de plus précieux qui n’existe dans aucun pays musulman : la liberté de penser et de s’exprimer.

L’islam essaie d’imposer à l’Europe ses règles : ouverture des piscines à certaines heures exclusivement aux femmes, interdiction de caricaturer cette religion, exigence d’un traitement diététique particulier des enfants musulmans dans les cantines, combat pour le port du voile à l’école, accusation d’islamophobie contre les esprits libres.

Comment expliquer l’interdiction du string à Paris-Plages, cet été ? Étrange fut l’argument avancé : risque de «troubles à l’ordre public». Cela signifiait-il que des bandes de jeunes frustrés risquaient de devenir violents à l’affichage de la beauté ? Ou bien craignait-on des manifestations islamistes, via des brigades de la vertu, aux abords de Paris-Plages ?
Pourtant, la non-interdiction du port du voile dans la rue est, du fait de la réprobation que ce soutien à l’oppression contre les femmes suscite, plus propre à «troubler l’ordre public» que le string. Il n’est pas déplacé de penser que cette interdiction traduit une islamisation des esprits en France, une soumission plus ou moins consciente aux diktats de l’islam. Ou, à tout le moins, qu’elle résulte de l’insidieuse pression musulmane sur les esprits. Islamisation des esprits : ceux-là même qui s’élevaient contre l’inauguration d’un Parvis Jean-Paul-II à Paris ne s’opposent pas à la construction de mosquées. L’islam tente d’obliger l’Europe à se plier à sa vision de l’homme.

Comme jadis avec le communisme, l’Occident se retrouve sous surveillance idéologique. L’islam se présente, à l’image du défunt communisme, comme une alternative au monde occidental. À l’instar du communisme d’autrefois, l’islam, pour conquérir les esprits, joue sur une corde sensible. Il se targue d’une légitimité qui trouble la conscience occidentale, attentive à autrui : être la voix des pauvres de la planète. Hier, la voix des pauvres prétendait venir de Moscou, aujourd’hui elle viendrait de La Mecque ! Aujourd’hui à nouveau, des intellectuels incarnent cet oeil du Coran, comme ils incarnaient l’oeil de Moscou hier. Ils excommunient pour islamophobie, comme hier pour anticommunisme.

Dans l’ouverture à autrui, propre à l’Occident, se manifeste une sécularisation du christianisme, dont le fond se résume ainsi : l’autre doit toujours passer avant moi. L’Occidental, héritier du christianisme, est l’être qui met son âme à découvert. Il prend le risque de passer pour faible. À l’identique de feu le communisme, l’islam tient la générosité, l’ouverture d’esprit, la tolérance, la douceur, la liberté de la femme et des moeurs, les valeurs démocratiques, pour des marques de décadence.

Ce sont des faiblesses qu’il veut exploiter au moyen «d’idiots utiles», les bonnes consciences imbues de bons sentiments, afin d’imposer l’ordre coranique au monde occidental lui-même.
Le Coran est un livre d’inouïe violence. Maxime Rodinson énonce, dans l’Encyclopédia Universalis, quelques vérités aussi importantes que taboues en France. D’une part, «Muhammad révéla à Médine des qualités insoupçonnées de dirigeant politique et de chef militaire (...) Il recourut à la guerre privée, institution courante en Arabie (...) Muhammad envoya bientôt des petits groupes de ses partisans attaquer les caravanes mekkoises, punissant ainsi ses incrédules compatriotes et du même coup acquérant un riche butin».
D’autre part, «Muhammad profita de ce succès pour éliminer de Médine, en la faisant massacrer, la dernière tribu juive qui y restait, les Qurayza, qu’il accusait d’un comportement suspect». Enfin, «après la mort de Khadidja, il épousa une veuve, bonne ménagère, Sawda, et aussi la petite Aisha, qui avait à peine une dizaine d’années. Ses penchants érotiques, longtemps contenus, devaient lui faire contracter concurremment une dizaine de mariages».
Exaltation de la violence : chef de guerre impitoyable, pillard, massacreur de juifs et polygame, tel se révèle Mahomet à travers le Coran.

De fait, l’Église catholique n’est pas exempte de reproches. Son histoire est jonchée de pages noires, sur lesquelles elle a fait repentance. L’Inquisition, la chasse aux sorcières, l’exécution des philosophes Bruno et Vanini, ces mal-pensants épicuriens, celle, en plein XVIIIe siècle, du chevalier de La Barre pour impiété, ne plaident pas en sa faveur. Mais ce qui différencie le christianisme de l’islam apparaît : il est toujours possible de retourner les valeurs évangéliques, la douce personne de Jésus contre les dérives de l’Église.

Aucune des fautes de l’Église ne plonge ses racines dans l’Évangile. Jésus est non-violent. Le retour à Jésus est un recours contre les excès de l’institution ecclésiale. Le recours à Mahomet, au contraire, renforce la haine et la violence. Jésus est un maître d’amour, Mahomet un maître de haine.

La lapidation de Satan, chaque année à La Mecque, n’est pas qu’un phénomène superstitieux. Elle ne met pas seulement en scène une foule hystérisée flirtant avec la barbarie. Sa portée est anthropologique. Voilà en effet un rite, auquel chaque musulman est invité à se soumettre, inscrivant la violence comme un devoir sacré au coeur du croyant.
Cette lapidation, s’accompagnant annuellement de la mort par piétinement de quelques fidèles, parfois de plusieurs centaines, est un rituel qui couve la violence archaïque.

Au lieu d’éliminer cette violence archaïque, à l’imitation du judaïsme et du christianisme, en la neutralisant (le judaïsme commence par le refus du sacrifice humain, c’est-à-dire l’entrée dans la civilisation, le christianisme transforme le sacrifice en eucharistie), l’islam lui confectionne un nid, où elle croîtra au chaud. Quand le judaïsme et le christianisme sont des religions dont les rites conjurent la violence, la délégitiment, l’islam est une religion qui, dans son texte sacré même, autant que dans certains de ses rites banals, exalte violence et haine.

Haine et violence habitent le livre dans lequel tout musulman est éduqué, le Coran. Comme aux temps de la guerre froide, violence et intimidation sont les voies utilisées par une idéologie à vocation hégémonique, l’islam, pour poser sa chape de plomb sur le monde. Benoît XVI en souffre la cruelle expérience. Comme en ces temps-là, il faut appeler l’Occident «le monde libre» par rapport à au monde musulman, et comme en ces temps-là les adversaires de ce «monde libre», fonctionnaires zélés de l’oeil du Coran, pullulent en son sein.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

BRAVO LES CONS....ET MERCI POUR TOUT !

Al-Qaida joins Algerians against France

PARIS - Al-Qaida has for the first time announced a union with an Algerian insurgent group that has designated France as an enemy, saying they will act together against French and American interests.

Current and former French officials specializing in terrorism said Thursday that an al-Qaida alliance with the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French initials GSPC, was cause for concern.

"We take these threats very seriously," Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said, adding in an interview on France-2 television that the threat to France was "high" and "permanent," and that "absolute vigilance" was required.

Al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, announced the "blessed union" in a video posted this week on the Internet to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
France's leader have repeatedly warned that the decision not to join the U.S.-led war in
Iraq' would not shield the country from Islamic terrorism
. French participation in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon could give extremists another reason to strike.

The national police had no immediate comment on the announced alliance, but officials have long regarded the GSPC as one of the main terror threats facing France.

French experts agreed, but also noted the group has been severely weakened by internal divisions, security crackdowns and defections in Algeria, a former French territory still working to put down an Islamic insurgency that reached its most murderous heights in the 1990s.

"The GSPC is losing speed and has suffered very significant losses in recent months," said Louis Caprioli, former assistant director of France's DST counterterrorism and counterintelligence agency.

Some GSPC fighters took advantage of a recent Algerian amnesty for Islamic insurgents and others have been killed, said Caprioli, who works for Geos, a risk management firm.

Of the 800 combatants that GSPC was estimated to have had last year, probably no more than 500 remain, and the group has had no operational cells in France since the late 1990s, he said.
But Caprioli and others also said an alliance of GSPC and al-Qaida could increase the terror risk for France — not least because al-Zawahri's designation of the country as a worthy target could inspire extremists to take action.

In his video, Al-Zawahri hailed "the joining up" of the GSPC with al-Qaida as "good news."
"All the praise is due to Allah for the blessed union which we ask Allah to be as a bone in the throats of the Americans and French Crusaders and their allies, and inspire distress, concern and dejection in the hearts of the traitorous, apostate sons of France," he said.

"We ask him (Allah) to guide our brothers in the Salafist Group for Call and Combat to crush the pillars of the Crusader alliance, especially their elderly immoral leader, America."

Although GSPC leaders had previously sworn allegiance to al-Qaida, al-Zawahri's video marked the first al-Qaida recognition of a union between the two, French terror experts said.

"From now on, the links are official, legitimate, and they are taking part in the same combat," said Anne Giudicelli, a former French diplomat specializing in the Middle East who runs the Paris-based consultancy Terrorisc.

Sarkozy said it was "not by chance" that al-Qaida used the emblematic Sept. 11 date to announce the insurgency movement's alliance with al-Qaida.

"But there is nothing new," he added, noting that the GSPC had done the same three years ago.
The GSPC, in its own statement on a Web site used by militants, confirmed the alliance and urged other militant groups to also join al-Qaida.

Giudicelli said the alliance could act as a green light for al-Qaida and GSPC militants to operate together and thus raises the risk for France.

"The Americans have become harder to target domestically, so they are trying to widen the field of action and strike their allies," she said.

Des annees de compromission pour en arriver la.

Monday, September 04, 2006

ADIEU L'AMI!

Stingray kills 'Crocodile Hunter' Irwin

CAIRNS, Australia - Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.

Irwin was at Batt Reef, off the remote coast of northeastern Queensland state, shooting a segment for a series called "Ocean's Deadliest" when he swam too close to one of the animals, which have a poisonous barb on their tails, his friend and colleague John Stainton said.
"He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.

Crew members aboard the boat, Croc One, called emergency services in the nearest city, Cairns, and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead when they arrived a short time later, Stainton said.

Irwin was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchword "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter." First broadcast in Australia in 1992, the program was picked up by the Discovery network, catapulting Irwin to international celebrity.

He rode his image into a feature film, 2002's "The Crocodile Hunters: Collision Course" and developed the wildlife park that his parents opened, Australia Zoo, into a major tourist attraction.

"The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet," Stainton told reporters in Cairns. "He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, 'Crocs Rule!'"
Prime Minister John Howard, who hand-picked Irwin to attend a gala barbecue to honor
President Bush when he visited in 2003, said he was "shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death."

"It's a huge loss to Australia," Howard told reporters. "He was a wonderful character. He was a passionate environmentalist. He brought joy and entertainment and excitement to millions of people."

Irwin, who made a trademark of hovering dangerously close to untethered crocodiles and leaping on their backs, spoke in rapid-fire bursts with a thick Australian accent and was almost never seen without his uniform of khaki shorts and shirt and heavy boots.

Wild animal expert Jack Hanna, who frequently appears on TV with his subjects, offered praise for Irwin.


"Steve was one of these guys, we thought of him as invincible," Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium, told ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday.

"The guy was incredible. His knowledge was incredible," Hanna said. "Some people that are doing this stuff are actors and that type of thing, but Steve was truly a zoologist, so to speak, a person who knew what he was doing. Yes, he did things a lot of people wouldn't do. I think he knew what he was doing."

Irwin's ebullience was infectious and Australian officials sought him out for photo opportunities and to promote Australia internationally.
His public image was dented, however, in 2004 when he caused an uproar by holding his infant son in one arm while feeding large crocodiles inside a zoo pen. Irwin claimed at the time there was no danger to the child, and authorities declined to charge Irwin with violating safety regulations.

Later that year, he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and an Australian Environment Department investigation recommended no action be taken against him.

Stingrays have a serrated, toxin-loaded barb, or spine, on the top of their tail. The barb, which can be up to 10 inches long, flexes if a ray is frightened. Stings usually occur to people when they step on or swim too close to a ray and can be excruciatingly painful but are rarely fatal, said University of Queensland marine neuroscientist Shaun Collin.

Collin said he suspected Irwin died because the barb pierced under his ribcage and directly into his heart.
"It was extraordinarily bad luck. It's not easy to get spined by a stingray and to be killed by one is very rare," Collin said.

News of Irwin's death spread quickly, and tributes flowed from all quarters of society.
At Australia Zoo at Beerwah, south Queensland, floral tributes were dropped at the entrance, where a huge fake crocodile gapes. Drivers honked their horns as they passed.

"Steve, from all God's creatures, thank you. Rest in peace," was written on a card with a bouquet of native flowers.

"We're all very shocked. I don't know what the zoo will do without him. He's done so much for us, the environment and it's a big loss," said Paula Kelly, a local resident and volunteer at the zoo, after dropping off a wreath at the gate.

Stainton said Irwin's American-born wife Terri, from Eugene, Ore., had been informed of his death, and had told their daughter Bindi Sue, 8, and son Bob, who will turn 3 in December.

The couple met when she went on vacation in Australia in 1991 and visited Irwin's Australia Zoo; they were married six months later. Sometimes referred to as the "Crocodile Huntress," she costarred on her husband's television show and in his 2002 movie.

Discovery Channel

Animal Planet

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"LE MONDE" SE SURPASSE !

Deux articles a imprimer, decouper et mettre sous verre dans l'edition electronique du journal "Le Monde" en ce mercredi 30 aout 2006.
Le premier est la chronique sur Zacharia Moussaoui ou Dominique Dhombres apprend aux foules du bon pays de France que le "20eme terroriste" n'est en fait qu'un illumine megalo devenu islamiste parce qu'ils sont de vilains racistes:

Trop fou pour faire un bon kamikaze..., par Dominique Dhombres

Zacarias Moussaoui est le seul à avoir été traduit en justice aux Etats-Unis pour les attentats du 11 septembre 2001. Le visage de ce Français d'origine marocaine est ainsi connu dans le monde entier.

Et pourtant ! Moussaoui a été arrêté un mois avant les attentats. La justice américaine lui reproche de ne pas avoir révélé la préparation de ces derniers. Il a échappé de justesse à la peine de mort et a été condamné le 3 mai 2006 à la détention perpétuelle. Il doit passer le restant de ses jours à l'isolement dans une prison de haute sécurité du Colorado. Il est persuadé que George Bush en personne se rendra dans le Colorado avant la fin de sa présidence pour le faire sortir de sa cellule, ce qui donne une idée de son état mental. Pendant son procès, il criait régulièrement "Mort aux Américains !" ou "Je suis Al-Qaida !".

Il affirme maintenant qu'il n'était pas le vingtième terroriste du 11-Septembre. Trop tard. Dans ses rêves de mégalomane, il se voyait en guerre avec l'Amérique. La justice américaine l'a pris au mot.

Le documentaire de Valentin Thurn diffusé mardi 29 août sur Arte raconte l'enfance difficile de Moussaoui, entre un père violent et une mère débordée, mariée à 14 ans, qui finit par s'enfuir avec ses quatre enfants. Pour le réalisateur, il est probablement schizophrène, comme son père et ses deux soeurs.

On entend au début du film la voix d'Oussama Ben Laden. "Zacarias Moussaoui n'a aucun lien avec les événements du 11-Septembre. J'en suis certain, car c'est moi qui ai chargé les 19 frères de leur mission. Je n'ai pas chargé le frère Zacarias d'être avec eux dans cette mission", affirme le dirigeant d'Al-Qaida. Le Français a peut-être été pressenti pour être un des pilotes, puis écarté en raison de son instabilité mentale. Il était trop fou pour faire un bon kamikaze... "Quand Zacarias est gai, il est adorable", raconte sa mère.

On voit l'adolescent sur une bande vidéo réalisée par un de ses copains. Ils sont en train de retaper un appartement. On aperçoit Fanny, sa petite amie. A cette époque, Zacarias n'est nullement religieux. Il boit de l'alcool, sort en boîte. Justement, son problème est qu'on lui refuse souvent l'entrée dans les discothèques et que le père de sa petite amie ne veut pas entendre parler de lui. Puis c'est le départ pour Londres, la rencontre décisive avec un des sergents recruteurs de Ben Laden.

La folie est une explication. Mais il reste une part de mystère. Comme sur cette photo d'identité sans cesse montrée où le visage apparaît totalement fermé.

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Le deuxieme article provient d'une "correspondante" a Washington, sondage du Pew Research Center a l'appui, toute pimpante et claironnant (Hosanna!) que le modele d'integration made in France est enfin rehabilite et nos bons musulmans bien de chez nous sont des mecs vachement cools si tu les compares aux "autres" musulmans:

Les musulmans français sont plus tolérants que leurs voisins européens

Critiqué par la presse américaine au moment des émeutes de l'automne 2005 dans les banlieues, le modèle français d'intégration est réhabilité par une enquête publiée par le Pew Research Center, l'un des instituts d'opinion les plus réputés des Etats-Unis. Selon cette enquête, réalisée au printemps auprès de musulmans de quatre pays européens et dont les résultats complets ont été publiés le 17 août, les musulmans de France n'ont pas de leçons d'intégration à recevoir de leurs voisins européens.

Le sondage montre que les musulmans européens partagent une même préoccupation pour le chômage dans leur communauté (83 % en France, 78 % en Angleterre) et s'inquiètent de l'extrémisme islamiste, seule une faible minorité approuvant les attentats-suicides (16 % en France).

Mais sur le plan de l'intégration, les Français se singularisent. Alors que la moitié des musulmans britanniques perçoivent "un conflit naturel entre le fait de pratiquer l'islam et le fait de vivre dans une société moderne", 72 % des Français musulmans n'en voient aucun (une proportion identique à celle enregistrée dans l'ensemble de la société française).

Les musulmans français sont aussi, avec les Espagnols, ceux qui ressentent le moins d'hostilité à l'égard des pratiquants de l'islam (39 % estiment que la plupart des Européens sont hostiles aux musulmans, contre 52 % en Allemagne).

Appelés à dire ce qui les définit le mieux, de la nationalité ou de la religion, 81 % des musulmans britanniques optent pour la seconde. Les musulmans français sont nettement plus partagés : 42 % choisissent la nationalité et 46 % la religion.

Ce résultat est assez éloigné de celui enregistré lorsqu'on interroge la population tout entière : 83 % des Français s'identifient d'abord par leur nationalité. Mais il est "remarquablement proche", souligne le Pew Center, de celui qui concerne les Américains dans leur ensemble (48 % se définissent d'abord comme Américains, 42 % comme chrétiens). Les moins de 35 ans sont cependant 51 % à se décrire comme musulmans d'abord.

Autre sujet d'étonnement pour le centre de recherches américain : le regard sur les autres religions. 91 % des Français musulmans ont une opinion favorable des chrétiens et 71 % une bonne opinion des juifs, ce qui fait d'eux une exception : seuls 32 % des musulmans britanniques, 28 % des musulmans espagnols et 38 % des musulmans allemands ont une bonne opinion des juifs.

Enfin, les musulmans de France expriment une "préférence pour l'assimilation", selon l'institut : 78 % d'entre eux estiment que leur communauté souhaite adopter les traditions nationales (contre 41 % en Angleterre et 30 % en Allemagne).

Selon le sondage, les Français, dans leur ensemble, n'ont cependant pas la même perception : 53 % d'entre eux estiment que les musulmans n'ont pas de véritable volonté d'assimilation.

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Dormez donc, populations de France, Tout va bien !!!! Du grand journalisme d'investigation considerant que cet article n'est qu'une traduction abregee de l'etude suivante:

The French-Muslim Connection

Is France Doing a Better Job of Integration than Its Critics?
by Jodie T. AllenPew Research CenterAugust 17, 2006

When Muslim youth rioted in the suburbs of France late last year, commentators were quick to fault the French "color-blind" assimilation model. "The unrest in France's cities shows that social and policing policy has failed, as well as integration," read the headline on an article in the Economist magazine on November 12, 2005.

But findings from the latest Pew Global Attitudes Survey, which included over-samples of Muslims in four European countries, suggest that the French model can claim some success, however mixed. Some aspects of that relative success are especially striking when compared with the attitudes and experiences of Muslims in Great Britain, where police last week foiled a home-grown plot by Islamic terrorists to blow up U.S.-bound airliners.

France is home to the largest Muslim population in Europe, an estimated 5 million persons primarily of Algerian and Moroccan extraction (since religion is not tabulated in France's census, no official estimate is available). Similarly, Muslims in Spain are largely of Moroccan extraction. By contrast, Pakistanis predominate among Britain's Muslims along with other ethnicities, while Germany's Muslims are primarily Turkish in origin.

Where European Muslims Mostly Agree

When you see your Muslim friends on a daily basis you don't think that relations with Muslims are bad. But if all you do is watch television, most of what you see are extreme examples of Islam. Islam is not the religion of terror. But people are afraid of terrorism and too often religion is mixed up in the debate. - Pierre-Etienne Issoulie, 22, architect, Paris.

It's true that relations are bad, but to go from there to saying who's wrong? I think everyone bears some responsibility. On the Muslim side, it's too much religion, religion, religion, and they don't want to open up to others. - Jeannine Pilé, 33, housewife and mother.

[All interviews cited in this analysis were conducted in France by reporters for the International Herald Tribune.]

French Muslims do share many opinions with their co-religionists in neighboring countries. Primary among them is concern about joblessness. More than half of French Muslims (52%) say they are very worried about unemployment among Muslims -- the primary complaint of last fall's rioters -- and an additional 32% say they are somewhat concerned. These levels are comparable to those expressed by Spanish, German and, to a slightly lesser degree, by British Muslims. (Curiously, among French Muslims, only 48% of those under age 35 say they are very worried about unemployment compared with 59% of their elders.)

Like Muslims elsewhere in Europe, the French also worry more generally about the future of Muslims in their country -- though, in this case, Muslims in France are significantly less worried than those in Great Britain. A majority (57%) is also at least somewhat concerned about the declining importance of religion among their co-religionists in France, though again, British Muslims are more troubled on this score with 73% sharing the worry. (In this, as in other questions in the survey, no significant difference is seen among the responses of French Muslims of Algerian, Moroccan or other ethnicity.)

Not surprisingly, a majority of French Muslims (63%) sympathize with their youthful rioters -- but not much more so than do Muslims in Spain and Germany. Interestingly, British Muslims are significantly more tolerant of the French car-burners, with fully 75% offering their sympathy.

Common Attitudes toward Non-Muslims

Relations between Muslims and westerners may be bad between governments; I don't actually think they are bad between people. But the people don't really get a chance to get to know each other… I think the mass media has played a big role in this. It's not objective on either side, and that leads to false stereotypes. - M'hand Chabbi, 29, of Moroccan origin, works selling Moroccan specialties in a central Paris market

French Muslims share the view that relations between Muslims and Westerners are bad, a view prevalent elsewhere in Europe -- and in predominantly Muslim countries -- with the exception of Spain, where nearly half of the Muslim population rates relations as good compared with fewer than a quarter who call them bad. But while 58% of French Muslims view relations with Westerners as bad, far more (41%) view these relations as good than do British or German Muslims.
Additional points of similarity between French and other European Muslims include generally unfavorable opinions of the United States, of its war on terrorism and, to a lesser degree, of its citizens .

Also, like the great majority of Muslims in Great Britain and Spain (though less so in Germany) French Muslim sympathies in the Middle East lie with the Palestinians rather than with Israel. However, nearly two-in-three French Muslims (65%) worry about extremism among Muslims -- as do even more (70%) of British Muslims. And, like Muslims elsewhere in Europe only a tiny minority of French Muslims (16%) say that suicide bombings and other violence against civilian targets in defense of Islam can often or sometimes be justified.

Voici La Différence

However, even on the hot button issues of the Middle East, French Muslims depart company with others of their faith both in Europe and in the Muslim world. For example, French Muslims are evenly split on the question of the effect of the victory by the radical group Hamas in this year's Palestinian election, with 44% saying it was good for Palestinians and 46% judging it bad. By comparison, British Muslims weighed in lopsidedly on the positive side (56% 'good' vs. 18% 'bad') as did Spanish Muslims (57% vs. 22%).

Moreover, joined only by German Muslims in Europe, the French are heavily opposed (71%) to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran. British Muslims, in contrast, are evenly split on the subject. And while the majority of Muslims in all four European countries surveyed say they have little or no confidence in Osama bin Laden, French Muslims are virtually unanimous (93%) in their disdain. (By comparison, 68% of British Muslims submit a vote of no confidence in the Al Qaeda leader.)

Most striking, however, is the difference between the views that French Muslims hold about people of other faiths and the views held by Muslims elsewhere in Europe and in predominantly Muslim countries. French Muslims even top the general publics in the United States and France in favorable ratings of Christians (91% of French Muslims vs. 88% of Americans and 87% of the French take that view).

But what most distinguishes French Muslims from their co-religionists not only in the Muslim world but in Europe, is their attitude toward Jews. Fully 71% of French Muslims express a positive view of people of the Jewish faith, compared with only 38% of German Muslims, 32% of British Muslims, 28% of Spanish Muslims and still lower numbers in the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed. In this, Muslims reflect the view of the larger French public among whom fully 86% express a favorable opinion of Jews, a higher proportion than even than among the American public.

At Home in France?

There are a lot of Muslims who are much more open, who don't pray regularly -- that's what I see in France. What happens in other countries I don't know. From what I see it's half and half in France. There are some who are super-cool, who are not practicing, who are very open to France, and others who are less. - Wahid Chekhar, 34, actor

Most Muslims in France feel very French -- but they feel that the French don't see them that way, because they may look Arab or black…. Surveys suggest that Muslims are generally more conservative for example on issues such as sexuality and marriage... [But] the fraction of Muslims actively practicing their religion in France is only 10 percent, which is very similar to that of practicing Catholics. - Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, immigration specialist and research director, Center for International Studies and Research, Paris

By and large, Muslims in France do not seem to see themselves as surrounded by hostile natives. Just 39% say they think many or most Europeans are hostile toward Muslims -- considerably lower percentage than the 56% among the general French population who take that view. In Germany, where most Muslims are of Turkish descent, roughly half (51%) see Europeans as unwelcoming -- a view shared by 63% of the larger German public. This perception of welcome persists despite the fact that French Muslims are somewhat more likely than those in other European countries to report that they have had a bad experience attributable to their race, ethnicity or religion. Nearly four-in-ten Muslims (37%) in France report such incidents, compared with 28% in Britain, 25% in Spain and 19% in Germany. Younger French Muslims are more likely to report a bad experience -- 40% of those under age 35 compared with 31% of those age 35 or older.

But what most distinguishes French Muslims among others in Europe are their self-perceptions. Few Muslims living in France see a natural conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society. Seven-in-ten French Muslims (72%) perceive no such conflict, a view shared by a virtually identical 74%-share of the French general public. In Great Britain, however, Muslims split evenly (47% see a conflict, 49% do not) while only 35% of the British general public see no inherent conflict between devotion to Islam and adaptation to a modern society.

Moreover, when asked whether they consider themselves as a national citizen first or as a Muslim first, French Muslims split relatively evenly (42% vs. 46%) on the issue. Not only is this remarkably different from Muslims elsewhere in Europe (fully 81% of British Muslims self-identify with their religion rather than their nationality, for example) but it is remarkably close to the responses given by Americans when asked whether they identify first as national citizens or as Christians (48% vs. 42%). Perhaps in this, as in other things, Muslims living in France are indeed absorbing the secular ways of their countrymen, among whom fully 83% self-identify with their nationality, rather than their religion.

On this one question, however, some evidence of a growing Islamic identity among younger French Muslims appears. Among those under age 35, many of them French by birth, only 40% self-identify primarily as French while 51% self-identify first as Muslim, while 7% say both equally. Among those 35 and older, 45% self-identify with their nationality, 36% as Muslims and 16% as both equally.

However, no such age differential appears on the question of whether Muslims in France want either to be distinct from the larger culture or to adopt its customs. Nearly eight-in-ten French Muslims (78%) say they want to adopt French customs. Those under age 35 are equally as likely to say this as are their elders. This high preference for assimilation compares with that expressed by 53% of Muslims in Spain, 41% in Britain and 30% in Germany.
All in all, one might conclude that, despite their problems -- prime among them joblessness among youth generally, not just Muslim youth -- the French need take no integrationist lessons from their European neighbors.

Notes

Special samples among Muslim populations were surveyed in France, Germany, Great Britain and Spain in the Spring of 2006. For the complete report, including a summary of the methodology. economic and demographic data on the countries surveyed, and complete topline results see The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other

2 All interviews cited in this analysis were conducted in France by reporters for the International Herald Tribune.

The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other. Europe's Muslims More Moderate
Released: 06.22.06
Introduction and Summary

After a year marked by riots over cartoon portrayals of Muhammad, a major terrorist attack in London, and continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Muslims and Westerners are convinced that relations between them are generally bad these days. Many in the West see Muslims as fanatical, violent, and as lacking tolerance. Meanwhile, Muslims in the Middle East and Asia generally see Westerners as selfish, immoral and greedy - as well as violent and fanatical.

A rare point of agreement between Westerners and Muslims is that both believe that Muslim nations should be more economically prosperous than they are today. But they gauge the problem quite differently. Muslim publics have an aggrieved view of the West - they are much more likely than Americans or Western Europeans to blame Western policies for their own lack of prosperity. For their part, Western publics instead point to government corruption, lack of education and Islamic fundamentalism as the biggest obstacles to Muslim prosperity.

Nothing highlights the divide between Muslims and the West more clearly than their responses to the uproar this past winter over cartoon depictions of Muhammad. Most people in Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey blame the controversy on Western nations' disrespect for the Islamic religion. In contrast, majorities of Americans and Western Europeans who have heard of the controversy say Muslims' intolerance to different points of view is more to blame.

The chasm between Muslims and the West is also seen in judgments about how the other civilization treats women. Western publics, by lopsided margins, do not think of Muslims as "respectful of women." But half or more in four of the five Muslim publics surveyed say the same thing about people in the West.

Yet despite the deep attitudinal divide between Western and Muslim publics, the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey also finds that the views of each toward the other are far from uniformly negative. For example, even in the wake of the tumultuous events of the past year, solid majorities in France, Great Britain and the U.S. retain overall favorable opinions of Muslims. However, positive opinions of Muslims have declined sharply in Spain over the past year (from 46% to 29%), and more modestly in Great Britain (from 72% to 63%).

For the most part, Muslim publics feel more embittered toward the West and its people than vice versa. Muslim opinions about the West and its people have worsened over the past year and by overwhelming margins, Muslims blame Westerners for the strained relationship between the two sides. But there are some positive indicators as well, including the fact that in most Muslim countries surveyed there has been a decline in support for terrorism.

The survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project was conducted in 13 countries, including the United States, from March 31-May 14, 2006. It includes special oversamples of Muslim minorities living in Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain. In many ways, the views of Europe's Muslims represent a middle ground between the way Western publics and Muslims in the Middle East and Asia view each other. While Europe's Muslim minorities are about as likely as Muslims elsewhere to see relations between Westerners and Muslims as generally bad, they more often associate positive attributes to Westerners - including tolerance, generosity, and respect for women. And in a number of respects Muslims in Europe are less inclined to see a clash of civilizations than are some of the general publics surveyed in Europe. Notably, they are less likely than non-Muslims in Europe to believe that there is a conflict between modernity and being a devout Muslim. Solid majorities of the general publics in Germany and Spain say that there is a natural conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society. But most Muslims in both of those countries disagree. And in France, the scene of recent riots in heavily Muslim areas, large percentages of both the general public and the Muslim minority population feel there is no conflict in being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.
The survey shows both hopeful and troubling signs with respect to Muslim support for terrorism and the viability of democracy in Muslim countries. In Jordan, Pakistan and Indonesia, there have been substantial declines in the percentages saying suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets can be justified to defend Islam against its enemies. The shift has been especially dramatic in Jordan, likely in response to the devastating terrorist attack in Amman last year; 29% of Jordanians view suicide attacks as often or sometimes justified, down from 57% in May 2005.

Confidence in Osama bin Laden also has fallen in most Muslim countries in recent years. This is especially the case in Jordan, where just 24% express at least some confidence in bin Laden now, compared with 60% a year ago. A sizable number of Pakistanis (38%) continue to say they have at least some confidence in the al Qaeda leader to do the right thing regarding world affairs, but significantly fewer do so now than in May 2005 (51%). However, Nigeria's Muslims represent a conspicuous exception to this trend; 61% of Nigeria's Muslims say they have at least some confidence in bin Laden, up from 44% in 2003.

The belief that terrorism is justifiable in the defense of Islam, while less extensive than in previous surveys, still has a sizable number of adherents. Among Nigeria's Muslim population, for instance, nearly half (46%) feel that suicide bombings can be justified often or sometimes in the defense of Islam. Even among Europe's Muslim minorities, roughly one-in-seven in France, Spain, and Great Britain feel that suicide bombings against civilian targets can at least sometimes be justified to defend Islam against its enemies. Anti-Jewish sentiment remains overwhelming in predominantly Muslim countries. There also is considerable support for the Hamas Party, which recently was victorious in the Palestinian elections. Majorities in most Muslim countries say that the Hamas Party's victory will be helpful to a fair settlement between Israel and the Palestinians - a view that is roundly rejected by Western publics (see "America's Image Slips, But Allies Share U.S. Concerns over Iran, Hamas," June 13, 2006).

In one of the survey's most striking findings, majorities in Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan say that they do not believe groups of Arabs carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The percentage of Turks expressing disbelief that Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks has increased from 43% in a 2002 Gallup survey to 59% currently. And this attitude is not limited to Muslims in predominantly Muslim countries - 56% of British Muslims say they do not believe Arabs carried out the terror attacks against the U.S., compared with just 17% who do.

But Muslim opinion on most issues is not monolithic, and there are some apparent anomalies in Muslims' views of the West and its people. While large percentages in nearly every Muslim country attribute several negative traits to Westerners - including violence, immorality and selfishness - solid majorities in Indonesia, Jordan and Nigeria express favorable opinions of Christians.

Moreover, there is enduring belief in democracy among Muslim publics, which contrasts sharply with the skepticism many Westerners express about whether democracy can take root in the Muslim world. Pluralities or majorities in every Muslim country surveyed say that democracy is not just for the West and can work in their countries. But Western publics are divided - majorities in Germany and Spain say democracy is a Western way of doing things that would not work in most Muslim countries. Most of the French and British, and about half of Americans, say democracy can work in Muslim countries.


Overall, the Germans and Spanish express much more negative views of both Muslims and Arabs than do the French, British or Americans. Just 36% in Germany, and 29% in Spain, express favorable opinions of Muslims; comparable numbers in the two countries have positive impressions of Arabs (39% and 33%, respectively). In France, Great Britain and the U.S., solid majorities say they have favorable opinions of Muslims, and about the same numbers have positive views of Arabs.
These differences are reflected as well in opinions about negative traits associated with Muslims. Roughly eight-in-ten Spanish (83%) and Germans (78%) say they associate Muslims with being fanatical. But that view is less prevalent in France (50%), Great Britain (48%) and the U.S. (43%).

In many ways, the views of Europe's Muslims are distinct from those of both Western publics and Muslims in the Middle East and Asia. Most European Muslims express favorable opinions of Christians, and while their views of Jews are less positive than those of Western publics, they are far more positive than those of Muslim publics. And in France, a large majority of Muslims (71%) say they have favorable opinions of Jews.

Moreover, while publics in largely Muslim countries generally view Westerners as violent and immoral, this view is not nearly as prevalent among Muslims in France, Spain and Germany. British Muslims however, are the most critical of the four minority publics studied - and they come closer to views of Muslims around the world in their opinions of Westerners.

Other Major Findings

- Concerns over Islamic extremism are widely shared in Western publics and Muslim publics alike. But an exception is China, where 59% express little or no concern over Islamic extremism.
- Muslims differ over whether there is a struggle in their country between Islamic fundamentalists and groups wanting to modernize society. But solid majorities of those who perceive such a struggle side with the modernizers.
- Fully 41% of the general public in Spain says most or many Muslims in their country support Islamic extremists. But just 12% of Spain's Muslims say most or many of the country's Muslims support extremists like al Qaeda.
- Nearly four-in-ten Germans (37%), and 29% of Americans, say there is a natural conflict between being a devout Christian and living in a modern society.

Roadmap to the Report

The first section of the report analyzes how people in predominantly Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries view each other. This section examines the positive and negative characteristics Muslims associate with Westerners - including Muslim minorities in four Western European countries - and the traits that non-Muslims associate with Muslims. Section II focuses on opinions about the state of relations between the West and Muslims. It also explores reasons people give for Muslim nations' lack of prosperity, attitudes to the recent controversy over cartoon depictions of Muhammad, and Muslim opinions on whether Arabs carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Section III deals with the opinions of Muslim publics as to whether they see a struggle in their countries between modernizers and Islamic fundamentalists, the concerns that Muslims and non-Muslims alike share over the rise of Islamic extremism, and Muslim views on terrorism and Osama bin Laden.

The report includes excerpts from interviews conducted by the International Herald Tribune in selected countries to illustrate some of the themes covered by the survey. These interviews were conducted separately from the Pew Global Attitudes Project. The bulk of the interviews are with Muslims.
A description of the Pew Global Attitudes Project immediately follows. A summary of the methodology can be found at the end of this report, along with economic and demographic data on the countries surveyed, and complete topline results.

About the Pew Global Attitudes Project

The Pew Global Attitudes Project is a series of worldwide public opinion surveys encompassing a broad array of subjects ranging from people's assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. The Pew Global Attitudes Project is co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, currently principal, the Albright Group LLC, and by former Senator John C. Danforth, currently partner, Bryan Cave LLP. The project is directed by Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan "fact tank" in Washington, DC, that provides information on the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. The Pew Global Attitudes Project is principally funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The surveys of European Muslims were conducted in partnership with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, another project of the Pew Research Center, which works to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs.
Since its inception in 2001, the Pew Global Attitudes Project has released 14 major reports, as well as numerous commentaries and other releases, on topics including attitudes towards the U.S. and American foreign policy, globalization, terrorism, and democratization.
Findings from the project are also analyzed in America Against the World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked, a recent book by Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes, a Pew Global Attitudes Project team member and international economics columnist at the >National Journal.
Pew Global Attitudes Project team members also include Mary McIntosh, president of Princeton Survey Research Associates International, and Wendy Sherman, principal at The Albright Group LLC. Contributors to the report and to the Pew Global Attitudes Project include Richard Wike, Carroll Doherty, Paul Taylor, Michael Dimock, Elizabeth Mueller Gross, Jodie T. Allen, and others of the Pew Research Center. The International Herald Tribune is the project's international newspaper partner. For this survey, the Pew Global Attitudes Project team consulted with survey and policy experts, regional and academic experts, and policymakers. Their expertise provided tremendous guidance in shaping the survey.
Following each release, the project also produces a series of in-depth analyses on specific topics covered in the survey, which will be found at pewglobal.org.......

Sunday, August 20, 2006

QUELLE SURPRISE LE CHEF NOUS RESERVE-T-IL CETTE SEMAINE ?

August 22 : Does Iran have something in store?

During the Cold War, both sides possessed weapons of mass destruction, but neither side used them, deterred by what was known as MAD, mutual assured destruction. Similar constraints have no doubt prevented their use in the confrontation between India and Pakistan. In our own day a new such confrontation seems to be looming between a nuclear-armed Iran and its favorite enemies, named by the late Ayatollah Khomeini as the Great Satan and the Little Satan, i.e., the United States and Israel. Against the U.S. the bombs might be delivered by terrorists, a method having the advantage of bearing no return address. Against Israel, the target is small enough to attempt obliteration by direct bombardment.

It seems increasingly likely that the Iranians either have or very soon will have nuclear weapons at their disposal, thanks to their own researches (which began some 15 years ago), to some of their obliging neighbors, and to the ever-helpful rulers of North Korea. The language used by Iranian President Ahmadinejad would seem to indicate the reality and indeed the imminence of this threat.

Would the same constraints, the same fear of mutual assured destruction, restrain a nuclear-armed Iran from using such weapons against the U.S. or against Israel?

There is a radical difference between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments with nuclear weapons. This difference is expressed in what can only be described as the apocalyptic worldview of Iran's present rulers. This worldview and expectation, vividly expressed in speeches, articles and even schoolbooks, clearly shape the perception and therefore the policies of Ahmadinejad and his disciples.

Even in the past it was clear that terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam had no compunction in slaughtering large numbers of fellow Muslims. A notable example was the blowing up of the American embassies in East Africa in 1998, killing a few American diplomats and a much larger number of uninvolved local passersby, many of them Muslims. There were numerous other Muslim victims in the various terrorist attacks of the last 15 years.

The phrase "Allah will know his own" is usually used to explain such apparently callous unconcern; it means that while infidel, i.e., non-Muslim, victims will go to a well-deserved punishment in hell, Muslims will be sent straight to heaven. According to this view, the bombers are in fact doing their Muslim victims a favor by giving them a quick pass to heaven and its delights--the rewards without the struggles of martyrdom. School textbooks tell young Iranians to be ready for a final global struggle against an evil enemy, named as the U.S., and to prepare themselves for the privileges of martyrdom.

A direct attack on the U.S., though possible, is less likely in the immediate future. Israel is a nearer and easier target, and Mr. Ahmadinejad has given indication of thinking along these lines. The Western observer would immediately think of two possible deterrents. The first is that an attack that wipes out Israel would almost certainly wipe out the Palestinians too. The second is that such an attack would evoke a devastating reprisal from Israel against Iran, since one may surely assume that the Israelis have made the necessary arrangements for a counterstrike even after a nuclear holocaust in Israel.

The first of these possible deterrents might well be of concern to the Palestinians--but not apparently to their fanatical champions in the Iranian government. The second deterrent--the threat of direct retaliation on Iran--is, as noted, already weakened by the suicide or martyrdom complex that plagues parts of the Islamic world today, without parallel in other religions, or for that matter in the Islamic past. This complex has become even more important at the present day, because of this new apocalyptic vision.

In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time--Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22. This was at first reported as "by the end of August," but Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise.

What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead--hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.

How then can one confront such an enemy, with such a view of life and death? Some immediate precautions are obviously possible and necessary. In the long term, it would seem that the best, perhaps the only hope is to appeal to those Muslims, Iranians, Arabs and others who do not share these apocalyptic perceptions and aspirations, and feel as much threatened, indeed even more threatened, than we are. There must be many such, probably even a majority in the lands of Islam. Now is the time for them to save their countries, their societies and their religion from the madness of MAD.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

THIS MAN IS A GENIUS

The Usual Suspects
(The Belmont Club wed. august 16 2006)

What's remarkable about Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Laureate Tom Schelling, and Hassan Nasrallah is that they probably agree with Keyser Soze, the legendary fictional villain of The Usual Suspects on one subject. Part boogeyman and part urban legend, Soze was a near-metaphysical example of implacable retribution. Soze's presence exists entirely offscreen until the final scene, but his legend is created in a an early bit of movie dialogue.


Verbal Kint: He's supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody ever believed he was real. Nobody ever knew him or saw anybody that ever worked directly for him. But to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew; that was his power. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. One story the guys told me, the story I believe, was from his days in Turkey. There was a gang of Hungarians that wanted their own mob. They realized that to be in power, you didn't need guns or money or even numbers. You just needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn't. After a while, they come into power and then they come after Soze. He was small-time then, just running dope, they say. (We see all of this in flashback) They come to his home in the afternoon, looking for his business. They find his wife and kids in the house and decide to wait for Soze. He comes home to find his wife raped and children screaming. The Hungarians knew Soze was tough, not to be trifled with, so they let him know they meant business.

(Flashback: Hungarian cuts one of the children's throats) They tell him they want his territory, all his business. Soze looks over the faces of his family. Then he showed these men of will what will really was.

(Soze shoots two Hungarians, then shoots his children and his wife as the last Hungarian watches in surprised horror) He tells him he would rather see his family dead than live another day after this. He lets the last Hungarian go, waits until his wife and kids are in the ground, and then he goes after the rest of the mob. He kills their kids. He kills their wives. He kills their parents and their parents' friends. He burns down the houses they live in, the stores they work in. He kills people that owe them money. And like that, he's gone. Underground. Nobody's ever seen him since. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. "Rat on your pop and Keyser Soze will get you." But no one ever really believes. (We see a shadow-encased figure of Keyser Soze walking towards the camera in front of a huge tower of flame as Verbal speaks about the process of revenge.)

Agent Kujon: Do you believe in him, Verbal?

Verbal Kint: Keaton always said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well, I believe in God -- and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.


The dramatic screen dialogue is matched by the mathematical precision of the game-theoretic concept of commitment for which Tom Schelling was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.
The Nobel press release said in part:

"Schelling showed that a party can strengthen its position by overtly worsening its own options, that the capability to retaliate can be more useful than the ability to resist an attack, and that uncertain retaliation is more credible and more efficient than certain retaliation."

What this means is explained by notes from the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which summarizes Schelling's lectures. First described is the basic notion of commitment, which communicates to the enemy that you will do what you undertake. Commitment makes deterrence credible and credibility is the essential problem. "The most difficult part is communicating your intentions to your enemies. They must believe that you are committed to fighting them in order to defend" what you say you will defend for them to take you seriously. As Verbal Kint put it "to be in power, you didn't need guns or money or even numbers. You just needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn't." To accomplish it no matter what. Schelling taught that threats are more credible if you "burn your bridges or ships" thereby making it clear that you have only one option: fight. When the Hungarian mob invaded Soze's home to intimidate him into submitting, he simply killed his family first, illustrating Schelling's point that to truly be believed “you must get yourself into a position where you cannot fail to react as you said you would”. Such is this power that when the fictional Kaiser Soze demonstrated absolute commitment he ceased to be simply a man and became a force of nature.

Tom Schelling's key contribution was to establish on a sound mathematical basis the role of will -- expressed as commitment -- in war. Deterrence was not simply a matter of possessing advanced weapons. That was only half the equation. The other half was to establish that you were absolutely ready to use those weapons to your purpose. And given a choice between superiority in weapons and ascendance in will, weapons always came in second. Die Welt relates the experience of an Israeli officer who fought Hezbollah during the early 1980s. Israel had artillery, tanks, airplanes to Hezbollahs guns and knives. But Israel was a liberal democracy and Hezbollah a ruthless criminal organization. The overmatch in will made knives were more powerful than tanks because Hezbollah was willing to use them unhesitatingly. "Hezbollah’s barbarism is legendary. Gen. Effe Eytam, an Israeli veteran of that first Lebanon war, tells of how--after Israel had helped bring "Doctors without Borders" into a village in the 1980s to treat children--local villagers lined up 50 kids the next day to show Eytam the price they pay for cooperating with the West. Each of the children had had their pinky finger cut off."

None of the weapons in the IDF arsenal could level this disparity in will. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in a speech before the Harvard class of 1978 explained how weapons simply became "burdens" to those who lacked a belief worth fighting for. Authentic belief brought commitment; but relativism could only aspire to fashion. Schelling would have understood. His audience did not and Solzhenitsyn tried to spell it out for them.

No weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal.

The matchless power of inherited Cold War weapons was more than overcome by withering of the very mental attitudes which made them effective. Mark Steyn argued that as a result the West's power shrank in direct proportion to the effectiveness of weaponry because the laws of political correctness always diminished the will to use them faster than their increase in destructiveness. "We live in an age of inversely proportional deterrence: The more militarily powerful a civilized nation is, the less its enemies have to fear the full force of that power ever being unleashed. They know America and other Western powers fight under the most stringent self-imposed etiquette. Overwhelming force is one thing; overwhelming force behaving underwhelmingly as a matter of policy is quite another. ... The U.S. military is the best-equipped and best-trained in the world. But it's not enough, it never has been, and it never will be."

The near panic which gripped Teheran and Damascus in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom was not the result of the fear that America had found new weapons -- the lethality of those weapons were already known -- but that it had found unexpected the will to use them. Today even better weapons are there yet the American force in Iraq is regarded as having become totally impotent, not because it has become militarily weaker; through fixed airbases, experience, new weapons it has become immeasurably stronger than it was in 2003. But it's impotence is due entirely to the perception that it's will has drained away -- that it cannot use its power. That leaves American power weaker than had it never been used. As Tom Schelling taught commitments that are repudiated -- such as by those politicians who now say they were against OIF even before they voted for it -- destroy not only the current commitments but the possibility of future commitments. The cost of escaping one commitment “is the discrediting of other commitments that one would still like to be credited”.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn asked his audience whether man could live without faith and received no answer. Tom Schelling answered, without hearing the question, that man cannot not survive without at least the counterfeit of faith: something called commitment. In game theoretic at least. And as for Keyser Soze, of whom, "to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for", faith and fear run together until finally God is indistinguishable from the Devil. "Well, I believe in God -- and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze."

Friday, August 18, 2006

HEZBOLLAH

A 'political party' unveiled

Remember, Hezbollah is a political party within Lebanon... The problem is... that they're a political party with a militia that is armed by foreign nations," said President Bush earlier this week. "Political Party"? "Armed Militia"?

Hezbollah, which was established in 1982 as a terrorist organization, was finally designated in 1995 as such by the U.S. government. It was upgraded to the status of a global terrorist organization in 1997. Hezbollah's evolvement into a "political party" began in the 1980s. With Iran's generous assistance and guidance, Hezbollah established a network of educational and cultural institutions, as well as health and social welfare services. The latter included an Islamic health authority that operated pharmacies, clinics and even hospitals where thousands of people were treated every day. Hezbollah also established a construction company that not only built houses, mosques and schools, but also paved roads and even supplied water to Shi'ite villages. Particularly prominent in all of this was its contribution to the reconstruction of thousands of houses damaged in the battles with Israel in south Lebanon. Such activities bought the loyalty of the local population.

Hezbollah, like the PLO and Hamas, also maintained a Martyrs' Fund, which provided assistance to thousands of families of the dead, injured and imprisoned Shi'ites.

To maintain and expand its political-social activities in the Shi'ite community in Lebanon and elsewhere, Hezbollah needs large sums of money. The $100 million to $120 million it is said to receive annually from Iran, and the weapons and supplies from Tehran and Damascus, are just a drop in Hezbollah's bucket. Where did Hezbollah's fund come from? By the mid-1980s, Shi'ite Hezbollah loyalists in Western Europe had quietly and effectively infiltrated local Muslim communities with the subversive aim of converting them to Ayatollah Khomeini's version of Islam, and of eventually gaining control over those communities. Countless legal and quasi-legal institutions — including religious, cultural and economic groups — were established to conceal these dormant Hezbollah networks; to finance their activities; to serve as a source for future recruitment of European-based terrorists; and to provide financial support for their attack. Hezbollah's support comes from both legitimate and illegal resources. The legitimate channel includes charitable organizations operating worldwide, donations from individuals and proceeds from legitimate business.

Drug trafficking is a major money maker for Hezbollah, endorsed by a special fatwa by the mullahs. In addition to the production and trade of heroin in the Middle East and cocaine in and from South America, Hezbollah facilitates, for a fee, the trafficking of other drug smuggling networks. It cooperates, for example, with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Colombia and the "Abadan drug ring," a long-established Iranian drug network, allowing them to use the Hezbollah-controlled drug routes in Lebanon to transport heroin and opium from Iran and Afghanistan to Europe and North Africa.
Hezbollah's other illegal resources include: money laundering, illegal arms trading and smuggling; counterfeiting and selling currency (U.S. dollar — super notes) and goods (designer clothing and accessories); piracy of compact discs and DVDs; trafficking in humans; conducting elaborate import-export schemes with traders from India and Hong Kong to Ivory Coast, Belgium, and South and Central America. Hezbollah also extorts "donations" from Shi'ite, especially Lebanese immigrants in South and North America under the threat of physical harm or death.

Hezbollah operatives also generate huge profits from the theft and resale of stolen vehicles and baby formula; credit card, welfare, Social Security, and marriage, health care and insurance fraud; forgery of passports, drivers' licenses, and other forms of identification; arson; robbery; food coupon fraud; counterfeiting resident alien cards and drivers' licenses; telecommunications fraud, such as selling long-distance telephone access through fraudulently obtained services, and through cloning the identification of cellular phone subscribers.

The magnitude of Hezbollah's criminal operations serves not only to reap huge profits — estimated at $6 billion in 2001 — thus enabling it to buy its way to the Lebanese parliament and government, but also facilitates Hezbollah's infiltration into their targeted countries, weakening the countries' economies while furthering their terrorist agenda.

Hezbollah should also be identified and designated as a global criminal organization. And while it continued to fund the vast social welfare system it put in place, enlisting more martyrs to their cause, Hezbollah spent no money to protect the "civilian" population in Lebanon because it does not consider them as such. Instead of building bunkers to protect their own Shi'ite brothers and sisters, members of Hezbollah spent fortunes to build fortified bunkers to launch war, and calculated death and destruction.

That, according to Hezbollah and their paymasters in Iran, is a good thing because only death and destruction will pave the way for the return of the mahdi, the 12th imam and Shi'ite supremacy in the world. This is the Hezbollah the president calls a "political party."