Sunday, July 31, 2011

The "Oslo Syndrome" and the Terror Attack in Norway


Note to readers: I have written this as a preface placed at the start of my article on "The Oslo Syndrome." I am also putting it here to make sure that those of you who want to see it can do so:

This article is being distorted by various people and places into supposedly saying things that I in no way believe so let me address that.

1. Am I justifying the murders and saying they were well-deserved? Of course not.

I don't in any way believe such a thing. These were as I've said from the beginning terrible acts of terrorism. In the article you will see my explicit argument that nobody should be a victim of terrorism even if they support politically a group committing terrorism. Since my argument is that NO terrorism--defined as the deliberate murder of civilians as part of a conscious political strategy--is acceptable, why would I justify the cold-blooded murder of dozens of unarmed, non-violent people in Norway? To justify it I would have to be saying that I supported the murder of young people because I disagree with their political views or those of their elders. That would be insane though, of course, that is precisely what actual terrorists do. And many "respectable" people wrote in various ways that the September 11 attacks on America were "well-deserved." That was precisely the kind of thing I had in mind when writing the article as something dangerous and to be condemned

2. In short, since the entire purpose of the article is to urge a universal condemnation of terrorism and to ensure that it doesn't bear political profit, I had no intention of endorsing terrorism in this case! The point of the article can be simply stated as follows: It is a dangerous thing to empower or reward terrorism anywhere because that makes terrorism seem a successful strategy and thus encourages more terrorism. If
you argue politically that terrorists are justified in the Middle East or, to put it a different way, that they aren't terrorists at all, you are making terrorism more likely to happen. It is tragic--not justifiable or deserved but horrible--that such people or such a country then becomes the target of terrorism.

3. The less murder the better. The less hatred the better. In the article I give four examples of waves of terrorism that did not gain widespread sympathy and thus were stamped out successfully, with terrorism not reappearing, at least in those places, in a major way for decades after that.

4. If Hamas uses a strategy of terrorism and then gains Western sympathy and help, then Hamas and other groups will conclude that terrorism works. Thus, more terrorism will take place and more innocent victims murdered. It is not true to say that I claimed any group in Norway applauded terrorism against Israelis. They either did not define it as terrorism, did not take it into account as a factor to be considered, or supported groups despite the fact that they used massive terrorism. Indeed, Norway's ambassador himself said that people in his country viewed terrorism as only a response to occupation while the main newspaper attacking me repeatedly denied--and denies--that Hamas is a terrorist group. Again, the issue is not for people to say: Isn't terrorism great! The issue is for people to say: We have no problem with Hamas, it isn't terrorist, we should act in a way to strengthen its rule over the Gaza Strip, etc.

5. I never said and don't believe that the camp in Norway was a terrorist training camp. A terrorist training camp is a place where people are trained to use guns, explosives, and various methods to stage military attacks and then escape afterward. What went on in the camp in Norway was purely conversational, theoretical, and political. That's obvious.

6. So to summarize, my entire point is that one must avoid empowering terrorism. To then be accused of empowering terrorism when what I wrote was the opposite is rather bizarre.

7. There are many dishonest or ideologically blinded people who will either deliberately lie and distort arguments or simply cannot read what the text says without putting their own a priori assumptions on it.

8. As I have written many times, my view is that the problem is not Islam as a religion but revolutionary Islamist movements that draw on normative Islam but are only one of many interpretations that exist. I use the analogy of people fighting over the steering wheel of a car to get in control. The radicals who want to seize state power in the name of Islamism are the problem. Often their first victims are fellow Muslims.

9. My goal is to reduce the frequency and effectiveness of terrorism and to reduce the number of victims. This article was written in that spirit--to save lives in future. It is based on 35 years of work on this issue and following it on a daily basis. When those who attack me--overwhelmingly one faction within Norway--insist that Hamas is not a terrorist group and thus distinguish between "justified" terrorism and "non-justified" terrorism they are doing what I'm being accused of doing. By the way, that is precisely the same way that Norway's ambassador to Israel characterized the view of people in that country (as I quote in my article).

10. If you wish, look at other things I've written and I'm sure you'll conclude that the mischaracterizations of this article have nothing to do with my views or record of writing and scholarship. The great journalist Eric Sevareid once said that a writer cannot prevent and is not responsible for the deliberate desire of some to distort his words. In our current era, there are all too many people who think they can profit politically by doing so. I will depend on those who are open-minded and fair-minded to make their own judgments.

By Barry Rubin

One of the most sensitive aspects of the very sensitive subject of the murderous terrorist attack in Norway by a right-wing gunman is this irony: The youth political camp he attacked was at the time engaged in what was essentially (though the campers didn’t see it that way, no doubt) a pro-terrorist program.

The camp, run by Norway’s left-wing party, was lobbying for breaking the blockade of the terrorist Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and for immediate recognition of a Palestinian state without that entity needing do anything that would prevent it from being a terrorist base against Israel. They were backing and justifying forces that had committed terrorism against Israelis and killing thousands of people like themselves.

Even to mention this irony is dangerous since it might be taken to imply that the victims “had it coming.” The victims never deserve to be murdered by terrorists, even any victims who think that other victims of terrorists “had it coming.” This is in no way a justification of that horrendous terrorist act. It’s the exact opposite: a vital but forgotten lesson arising from it that can and should save lives in future.

Call it the Oslo Syndrome.

The Stockholm Syndrome is named after an incident in which hostages taken by a terrorist group then quickly became supporters of that group. A combination of intimidation (persuade these people that we’re friends or they’ll kill us); human psychology (get to know someone and hear their sad—whether or not true—story and sympathy arises); and ideology (having—or thinking you have—common ideas and interests with the terrorist movement).

Then there was the Oslo Process, the 1993-2000 effort to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In retrospect, it can be read as an attempt to solve a conflict by offering a great deal to those who instead rejected the offers, believing they could obtain total victory through a strategy that included terrorism as a major component. Many in the West—especially Norway--think it only failed because not enough was offered, basically exculpating the terrorist side and strategy.

The Oslo Syndrome encompasses all of these things but goes a step further, for the most dangerous things you can do about terrorism is to make it appear politically successful and hence a great thing to do. For terrorism is not an ideology or a movement but merely a strategy: to murder noncombatants systematically and deliberately for political ends in order to get your enemy to give up and your own side to cheer and join up.

If you do this, will others, including the victims, be so terrorized as to give you whatever you want? Will they ignore the moral implications and support you nonetheless? Can you successfully make the argument that you are so oppressed as to justify terrorism, as the ambassador of Norway implied is true against Israel after the killings in the summer camp? Is it possible to engage in terrorism yet convince much of the world that your victims are the real terrorists?

According to Maariv, the ambassador said:

"We Norwegians view the occupation as the reason for terror against Israel. Many Norwegians still see the occupation as the reason for attacks against Israel. Whoever thinks this way, will not change his mind as a result of the attack in Oslo."

And if you can answer any of these questions with a “yes” then terrorism may be for you. Of course, not every worldview or movement would use it but for those who do it is a very practical issue whether using terrorism is likely to result in being reviled and killed yourself or being celebrated internationally and receiving large amounts of money.

The Oslo Syndrome can be defined the opposite of the Stockholm Syndrome. Instead of being a target of terrorism and then changing views to support the terrorists’ side, it means—individually, as part of a movement, or as an entire country—supporting the terrorists’ side then being victims of terrorism.

Here are four cases of terrorism being perceived as failures and itself dying out:

--The idea that terrorism works originated with Gracchus Babeuf, a French revolutionary journalist who coined the word in 1793. A few months later, his comrade, Pierre-Paul Royer-Collard, called terrorism, “The only way to arouse the people and force them to save themselves,” exactly what today’s terrorists think.Babeuf was executed, though, and that idea went out of fashion for decades.

--Late nineteenth, early twentieth century leftist or nationalist terrorism engaging in bombings and murders in Europe and a bit in North America.

--Latin American terrorism of the 1960s and 1970s failing to achieve revolution and being repressed.

--European terrorism of the 1970s and 1980s mobilizing little sympathy.

In contrast, Middle Eastern terrorism (Palestinian, radical nationalist, Islamist) enjoyed much local support and political success even in the West. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, an aide to Usama bin Ladin, Abu Ubeid al-Qurashi, recalled how Palestinian terrorism inspired the assault on America: millions of people around the world heard Palestinian claims and demands; “thousands of young Palestinians” joined the PLO.

Yasir Arafat spent decades as a terrorist, was applauded at the UN—after a speech in which he threatened more murder—then spent decades more as a terrorist, afterward becoming a virtual head of state and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Why should others not dream that the road to victory is paved with the corpses of deliberately murdered civilians?

If terrorist murders by Hamas and Islamists did not stop well-intentioned future leaders of Norway from enthusiastically considering them heroic underdogs, a local evil man could think his act of terrorism would gain sympathy and change Europe’s politics. After all, it has already changed the Middle East and even been sanctified by Western media, intellectuals, and governments.

When Norway’s ambassador to Israel distinguishes between “bad” terrorism in Norway and “understandable” terrorism against Israelis that opens the door to a man in Norway who thinks his country is “occupied” by leftists and Muslims?

In this sense, the most important thing about the terrorist in Norway is not that he is right-wing or anti-Islam, The most important thing is that he believed terrorism would work on behalf of his cause. After all, if he had held all of the same beliefs but didn’t think deliberate murder was a good strategy, nobody would be dead from his actions.

Of course, he was mentally unbalanced but did have a material basis for his imaginings. What he didn’t understand is that many Europeans will accept terrorism against Israelis or even Americans; very few will applaud terrorism against fellow Europeans.

Nevertheless, many people gave him the idea that terrorism would change minds, gain support, and bring victory. They weren’t those whose blogs he quoted a few times in a 1500-page manifesto and who explicitly rejected violence. They merely gave him programmatic ideas. It was the successful terrorists and their Western enablers who gave him the strategy he thought would work and implemented it with such a terrible outcome.

Oh, and one more thing. A young survivor of the terrorist attack at the camp in Norway explained:

"Some of my friends tried to stop [the gunman] by talking to him. Many people thought that it was a test ... comparing it to how it is to live in Gaza. So many people went to him and tried to talk to him, but they were shot immediately."

He's right but in a very different manner from what he thought. It is more comparable to how it is to live in Israel being targeted by Palestinian or Lebanese terrorists who won't be talked into sparing your life. But it is people like those teaching politics to the victims in Norway who want Israelis "to stop" the gunmen "by talking" to them. 


I have just discovered (from a letter written by someone in Norway who likes my article, "The Oslo Syndrome,)" that without my knowledge or permission the article has been published by a newspaper there, .  Since I don't speak the language--and the site is difficult to use--I have no idea what's going on with the responses or even if it was translated by someone or just appears in English. I can only assume that either people who don't speak English as their first language may misread it or that some unchecked translation gives a wrong impression. [If and when I have better information I will update this paragraph.]

Meanwhile, I will just post here the addendum I put on the end of the original article:

I have received three letters from Norway shocked and angry [along with one that understands my theme and provides additional information reinforcing it.] that I allegedly wrote that the victims of the terrorist attack in Norway were terrorists or supported violence. That was not in any way my intention. These people misread my point--perhaps because they were expecting that is what I was going to say.

And that's why I wrote the opening two paragraphs to make it crystal clear. Read especially the second paragraph where the issues is stated clearly. These people were victims of a horrendous terrorist attack. But if people cheer and help terrorist groups (even if they don't understand that they are terrorist, perhaps because their media and leaders haven't told them so or even told them the exact opposite) they make terrorism more successful and thus attractive as a strategy. That was the point of the article. I hope nobody will distort my words.

Now if only the media and various political readers in Norway stop acting as if its justified when Israeli kids are murdered by terrorists we might actually make some progress against all those extremists who are practicing--and rationalizing--terrorism.

The Ultimate "Arab Spring" Quote

By Barry Rubin

Rania Rifaat is the ultimate secular-oriented, social media-using, Egyptian "Arab Spring" activist. During a recent demonstration in Tahrir Square she complained:

"We, the youth, did the revolution. We didn't say that it should be Islamic or whatever. And people felt good. They felt relaxed here. And then suddenly these Islamic liars came, and they want us to go back 300 years."

Good so far, right? Sounds just like Western counterparts. But there's more. How did she characterize the Islamists?

"They are like the Jews—-they always break their promises."

Read it all:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Good Article on Syria

By Barry Rubin

Every day there are massive demonstrations, shootings, and defections of soldiers in Syria. Many now think that the dictatorship there is doomed. But what does it all mean, what has happened, and what is likely to happen? For a lot of answers, read "Getting Serious in Syria" by former NSC staffer Michael S. Doran and Salman Shaikh. A readable and brief survey of the issues.

The Current Crisis as Science Fiction: Robert Heinlein Thirty Years Ago

By Barry Rubin

Robert Heinlein is one of the great American science fiction writers; writers supposed to predict the future. Here are some lines from his novel Friday, published in 1982. The head of an intelligence agency asks his prize analyst, ”What are the marks of a sick culture?”

Friday (his prize analyst): “It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn’t the whole population….

“High taxation is important and so is inflation of the currency and the ratio of the productive to those on the public payroll. But that’s old hat; everybody knows that a country is on the skids when its income and outgo get out of balance and stay that way….”

Yeah, everybody knows that….

This article is also on PajamasMedia:

Murder As Political Strategy: Islamists Eliminate Rival Leader in Libya

Annie Hall: "Sometimes I ask myself how I'd stand up under torture."

Alvie Singer: "You kiddin'? If the Gestapo would take away your Bloomingdale's charge card you'd tell 'em everything." --"Annie Hall"

By Barry Rubin

Abdel Fattah Younes, the top military commander of the Libyan rebels and a former Libyan government official, has been assassinated by--according to opposition officials--an Islamist militia. That's a problem with Islamists: they murder people and intimidate with threats and violence. Consequently, they often get their way. Reformers can't compete with that kind of thing. That's why prospects in Libya or Egypt are not good. That's the kind of thing that Westerners tend to forget since, despite what the mass media might say, Sarah Palin for example doesn't have an armed militia dedicated to wiping out her enemies by decapitation.

Read it all:

Peace Process Profiteers and The Blessings of a Preferable Status Quo

This article was published in the Jerusalem Post. I own the rights.

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By Barry Rubin

Israel's historic position toward the territories captured in the 1967 war has been: Israel will control this land until it can achieve peace or at least a better situation for itself by leaving them. Jordan made peace. And it agreed to pull out of most of the Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank when the PLO promised (that’s a key word and a promise not kept) to make peace.

In contrast, Israel later withdrew from the Gaza Strip and dismantled all of the settlements there for two reasons. First, as a gesture that it hoped would show its desire for peace and would promote that goal. Second, because it seemed better to have its forces on a defensible line.

Believe it or not, there are some military advantages to the withdrawal and Israel's casualties might have been higher if it hadn't been carried out. Nevertheless, this policy did not work out so well and Israel ended up in a worse strategic situation without making any serious gains (arguably the reverse was true) in international support.

Regarding the West Bank, the lesson of the Gaza Strip withdrawal and also the southern Lebanon withdrawal have been learned. There, Israel turned over all of the populated sections (except for a small portion of Hebron) to the Palestinian Authority. Since 1993, no new settlements have been established (there have been small new outposts against government policy though the government has not always removed them) or expanded in their size. The status quo isn't wonderful but itis quite tolerable.

Recently, a number of people--many of them with a wide public audience--in the West have started clanging the bell that Israel must clear out of the West Bank as soon as possible or else face a terrible situation. Their arguments have no merit but since the other side is not given equal time (and often no time at all) their audiences are deprived of seeing how ridiculous are the claims being made.

What are these arguments? That more Palestinians are being born. So what? That Israel won't be a democratic state if it continues to control part of the West Bank? If Israel survived as a democratic and decent society for decades when it ran everything in the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, and all of the West Bank, it can certainly do so when it controls just part of the West Bank where virtually no Arabs live.

Another argument is that the regional situation is worsening. Well, when you are facing greater security threats on your borders is not the best time to shrink your borders further and turn total control of land over to those who either don't want to make peace or who soon would be bullied, persuaded, or overthrown by those who want to tear up the commitments and renew the conflict. And that would be renewing the conflict on terms much less favorable to Israel.

There is the argument that once a piece of paper was signed that there would be perfect and lasting peace with no more problems. But both the politics of the PA and events in Egypt show that's ridiculous.

So finally there is the fall-back argument: We must do something! We must try! Do what? Make things worse? Of course, trying means more busy work for the highly paid official and non-government peace processors. Free air fares! Banquets! Papers and articles to write! Meetings to go to! Pretending to be important and doing great things!

And just because they can imagine a wonderful peace in their heads--rather than understand what's going on in the heads of people in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Gaza, and the West Bank--they deem that sufficient to inflict their glorious visions on others.

I am tired of the professional peace processors. In most cases, what they are doing is akin to someone who wants to press buttons at random on a complex piece of machinery with no understanding of how it works, having barely read the manual, and being totally indifferent to the consequences for others who live in the building, while the peace processors go home to their nice mansions purchased with peace-processing income.

As long as the status quo is preferable to the alternative, the status quo looks pretty good. You don’t compare the status quo to your fantasies but to realistic alternatives, weighing the material price for each risk or concession.

And if conditions ever change so that real and lasting peace based on compromise is actually possible--and it won't be soon--that situation can be met with a changed Israeli policy.

Until then, or at least until they start acting responsibly instead of playing dice with our lives, the peace processors can, to quote an Egyptian proverb, "Go drink the Nile."

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is
His articles published originally outside of PajamasMedia are at <>

Friday, July 29, 2011

If Anti-Israel Propaganda Becomes Too Ridiculous Will Nobody Believe it?

By Barry Rubin

And if once-prestigious publications publish material that borders on satire will they be discredited?

This article in The Economist, once considered the world’s greatest international magazine for serious news and business analysis is so horrendous that I admit to laughing hysterically while reading it.

The opening sentence is priceless. Innocent Palestinian kids are just going to get water and for no reason at all Israeli soldiers start shooting them down in cold blood. If such an incident had ever happened, it would be everywhere in the mass media. Yet no date or place is mentioned, making it certain that this is fabricated or, more likely, the journalist merely writing down what he was told by Palestinians.

read the rest:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Palestinian "Moderate" (He Is In Relative Terms) Shows Why Real Peace is Impossible At Present

This is really amazing, not because you haven't heard this kind of thing before but because of:

1. Who is saying it. Mr. Moderate Palestinian himself.

2. When he is saying it. July 2011, no real advance over 1981 and basically 1971.

3. The openness with which he is saying it: No acceptance of Israel ever.

4. The fact that people like that saying things like this has zero effect on media coverage, the claims of "experts," and Western governmental policies.

Read it all:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Norway Terror Attack: Lessons and Illusions

By Barry Rubin

Once one gets beyond the polemics and clich├ęs, there is a huge amount that could be learned from an honest discussion about the mass murders in Norway. Let’s look at some of them.

An editorial in the New York Daily News contains both valid points and dangerous silliness. It begins:

“In his ravings, Anders Behring Breivik, confessed murdered of 76 people, repeats a familiar refrain: He killed to save his country, his continent and Western civilization itself from an attempted takeover by Islam.”

The trouble with a 1500-page manifesto is that one can find almost anything in it. For example, people, groups, and sites who have been cited once or twice in that manifesto are now being called complicit with the murders. In the case of one group in that position, Breivik actually attacked them for being non-violent! Another author in the United Kingdom had two articles footnoted by the killer that didn’t even deal with Islam. Now people are being incited to go after her in revenge.
Read more:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Escape From the Planet of the Airlines

The Stephen King version of travel

By Barry Rubin

With four suitcases, a guitar, three carry-ons and three cats (snarling at each other, well, Josie wasn't snarling but the other two were) we were about to set off for Reagan Airport on the way back to Israel. The taxi was already outside.

Suddenly our wonderful travel agent called to warn us that our flight had been cancelled to NY. She pondered sending us through Atlanta to Tel Aviv but finally I asked about Baltimore airport and she found a flight.

So after a two-hour delay we set off--being sure to leave early--and went the 30 miles or so to the airport in a hard rain and heavy traffic. We got three trolleys (cost $15), packed everyone and everything aboard, stood in a long line (one woman who had apparently been on the same original flight flipped out and started screaming at the poor employee who was trying to explain to her that he'd moved her ahead of 30 other people). We got to the front--one of our bags was too heavy and we had to move stuff around and then pay $70 extra and got our ticket and advanced.

Coming to the security we took off shoes, belts, and jackets, and I made a deal with the TSA employee (she was very nice and helpful) to follow this 13-step procedure:

Read more:

Monday, July 25, 2011

NATO Allies, Egyptian "Democracy" Become Main Weapons' Suppliers for Hamas

By Barry Rubin

As I predicted in early February, it is now clear that Egypt no longer tries seriously to stop weapons and terrorists and money from flowing into the Hamas arsenals in the Gaza Strip. Western newspaper headline statements by the military that it will keep the treaty with Israel but Egypt is already an ally of Hamas.

And now the weapons are coming from the territory held by the NATO backed Libyan rebels....

Read more:

The Very Low Value of International Guarantees; The Very Low Standards of the "International Community"

This is my column from the Jerusalem Post but my version and with a bit more added. I own the copyright so please link to this site. To see all my PajamasMedia articles go here:

See donation and circulation information at the end of this article
By Barry Rubin

Israel is constantly urged to put its trust in the international community, an idea that hasn't worked out too well in the past. Now the UN special envoy for Lebanon has given another reason why Israel shouldn't take risks and make concessions based on the hope of support from international guarantees.

While he did about the best he could given his situation, Michael Williams, the British diplomat working for the UN in this job, said the UN-sponsored ceasefire that ended the Hizballah-Israel war in 2006 is holding up "very well."

Technically, this is quite true. There hasn't been a new war or cross-border attacks. But that's merely because Hizballah has been too busy taking over Lebanon successfully and preparing for the next war. As Williams admits, arms have flowed to Hizballah (from Syria, though he doesn't say that). Williams only says that Lebanon's borders are "porous," a wonderful diplomatic euphemism for state-sponsored arms smuggling. The Gaza Strip's borders with Egypt, by the way, have become porous in the same way.

Hizballah has also moved back into southern Lebanon--something the UN was supposed to prevent--and rebuilt its system of tunnels and military strongpoints. In five years, the UN force has never interfered with these Hizballah activities--not once.

Imagine if you will how UN and international guarantees would work with a Palestinian state. Would the General Assembly vote to condemn Palestine for breaking its commitments? Would any foreign force that was part of a peace agreement deal ever act forcefully to stop weapons or terrorists from crossing the border into Palestine? Would they fight to stop terrorists from crossing the border from Palestine into Israel?

Of course not. Yet that point is not taken into account by any Western government, academic study, or mass media coverage. But it is taken into account by Israel. Otherwise we will read about the UN special envoy for Israel-Palestine peacekeeping talking about how well things are going as incitement, terrorism, and violations of the agreement take place daily.

But here’s an example of what can be expected.

When you arrive at the 'Palestine in the Eyes of the Children of Martyrs (Shahids) Summer Camp' you  are assigned to be in one of four groups, as a Palestinian Media Watch report translating the story about it in a PA-connected Palestinian newspaper:

Dalal Mughrabi group: In 1978 she led the most lethal terror attack in Israel's history, in which 37 civilians were killed, 12 of them children.

Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) group: He was the head of the Black September terror group. He planned many terror attacks including the murder of two American diplomats in Sudan, as well as the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics

Abu Ali Mustafa group: General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). He planned numerous terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Yasir Arafat group: He was boss for all of the others.

This is roughly the equivalent of a political group having a summer camp where children were put into an Anders Breivik group, the man who murdered adults and children in Norway. Such an organization would then not be very likely to receive huge amounts of Western funding, favorable media coverage, and the near-universal labeling as "moderates."

Yet this is a project not of Hamas but done by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and not just by the PA but under the sponsorship of everyone's favorite Palestinian moderate, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who visited the camp to participate in the closing ceremonies, which he also sponsored.

Now do keep in mind that the PA could easily name these groups after, say, Palestinian doctors and educators or even politicians of the past who weren't directly involved in anti-civilian terrorism. Arafat is going to be a name much used (though he was a disaster for the Palestinians as even many PA people admit privately) but Mughrabi has become Fatah's iconic terrorist and hero. The real argument being made to Palestinians is not, "We can get an independent state and raise living standards higher," but rather, "We can kill more Israelis than Hamas can."

Good news, though. If the PA is admitted to the UN as a member it can join UNICEF and receive UN money for….sending kids to summer camp.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is His articles published originally in places other than PajamasMedia can be found at

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thinking About the Terrorist Attack in Norway

By Barry Rubin

I don't think this terrorist attack in Norway was a jihadist conspiracy nor is this guy a secret Islamist terrorist. He is clearly right-wing and anti-Muslim, lashing out against forces (the government and Labor Party) that he holds responsible for the growing "Islamization" or multiculturalism in Norway. The evidence also indicates, by the way, that he was not motivated by Christian religious sentiment. He looks at Christianity as an outsider.

Should we argue that such people don't exist? Should we argue that hatred of Muslims cannot provoke terrorism? Should we claim that you cannot be a "right-wing terrorist" just as one can be a "left-wing terrorist"? Of course not.

We should rather say things like -- but not limited to -- the following:

Read full article​ubin/2011/07/24/thinking-about​-the-terrorist-murders-in-norw​ay/

What Went Wrong: Analyzing How the Left Hijacked Liberalism

By Barry Rubin

It is remarkable how little serious research and analysis there has been about the political earthquake that has shaken American politics out of all recognition.

Earthquake? That’s a serious understatement. The situation is more akin to the scariest scenarios of global climate change analysts: large areas of land have disappeared under water, formerly productive farmland has been turned into desert, and so on.

One reason there hasn’t been more examination of this revolution is that a lot of people are saying other things. Many conservatives say, Well this is what liberalism is all about. Nothing has changed. Barack Obama is exactly like Bill Clinton.

Academia and the media, two institutions that should be talking about such things, are too busy glorifying the new order or painting Obama as some kind of centrist. On the latter point, they use evidence of things he did against his will. (He kept the Bush tax cuts; let the Guantanamo Bay prison stay open, and is even talking about budget cuts!)

And a large proportion of the American people (40 percent? 50 percent?) say that nothing has changed at all.

Yet here is a very short analysis of what’s happened. A book-length narrative is required so the text below is going to over-simplify and obscure some points due to its necessary brevity.

Read more:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fouad Ajami: A Genuine Arab Hero

By Barry Rubin

You want to know what's wrong with the study and analysis of the Middle East in the West in a single sentence? Ok, here it is:

Edward Said is treated like a guru and hero; Fouad Ajami isn't.

Said never took the slightest risk and lived a life of greatest privilege. He was lionized by the intellectual elite. His work was taught in universities and shaped the worldview of a generation of professors and students.

Yet what Said said was disastrous for the Arabs themselves and for Western intellectual life. He told the Arabs that they were innocent victims who didn't need to do anything differently, thus guaranteeing they stayed on the wrong road. He backed the Palestinian cause as perfect (despite some criticisms of Arafat's dictatorial tendencies and corruption) and thus didn't use his influence to turn it toward moderation--away from radicalism, terrorism, and hatred--and a genuine two-state solution.

Equally bad, he undermined Western pragmatism, Enlightenment values, and scholarship by a Stalinist-type campaign to discredit all preceding work on the region and substitute for it propaganda.

I will never forget standing at the door of a Middle East Studies Association (MESA) annual meeting session listening to Said recite with hatred in his voice a list of scholars who he said were "enemies of the Arabs" to what can only be called a howling mob of professors. I had the honor of being on that list.

At that moment, I thought to myself: "I am witnessing the death of scholarship in American universities." If we had been living in a Middle East society, the audience would probably have erupted from the hall to beat up or kill those "enemies of the people."

Many years after his influence gained virtual hegemony, I am not aware of a single book authored by any of his followers that is of lasting value in the study of the modern Middle East. Not one. On the other hand, environmentalists should protest the forest murders to manufacture paper wasted on the ideological junk that is turned out on the region by academics today.

While Said came from an incredibly rich family and was raised from childhood as a Westerner (I personally witnessed him wearing earphones to hear the Arabic translation into English at a Palestine National Council meeting), Fouad Ajami came from a poor Shia Muslim family and grew up in a Lebanese village.

Ajami's brilliance, balance, and genuine adherence to democracy along with his people's welfare has been rewarded in the West with a response ranging from intellectual persecution to mere neglect.

He's also a great guy in person. Only a few days ago, a Lebanese student told me about meeting Ajami, who he didn't know, on a train ride and how friendly and kind Ajami behaved toward him. I also had an extensive conversation with a childhood friend about how Said used to make fun of the Arabs in private in terms that would shock the socks off the Politically Correct gang.

I'm leaving out a lot of detailed anecdotes about both men that demonstrate my thesis.

Pick up book and almost any article by Ajami and you will meet with a truly creative and incisive mind. Arguably, he is the greatest living thinker on the contemporary Middle East. (Lest anyone misread this as a slight toward Bernard Lewis, I would say he is the greatest living Middle East historian.)

If the West and the Arab world listened to Ajami rather than Said they would be both far better off.

All of this is by way of introduction to Ajami's latest article, "The Road to Serfdom and the Arab Revolt," published in the Wall Street Journal. He raises the hitherto neglected economic angle on the Arab world's recent history and opens the door to a fascinating comparison with Western history. Ajami also adds an important point in understanding what went wrong in the Arab world.

Though I already knew the basic points he made, Ajami's article inspired me to see these issues in a different way. I reprint here in its entirety:

"The Road to Serfdom and the Arab Revolt"

By Fouad Ajami
Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2011

The late great Austrian economist F.A. Hayek would have seen the Arab Spring for the economic revolt it was right from the start. For generations the Arab populations had bartered away their political freedom for economic protection. They rose in rebellion when it dawned on them that the bargain had not worked, that the system of subsidies, and the promise of equality held out by the autocrats, had proven a colossal failure.

What Hayek would call the Arab world's "road to serfdom" began when the old order of merchants and landholders was upended in the 1950s and '60s by a political and military class that assumed supreme power. The officers and ideologues who came to rule Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Algeria and Yemen were men contemptuous of the marketplace and of economic freedom.

As a rule, they hailed from the underclass and had no regard for the sanctity of wealth and property. They had come to level the economic order, and they put the merchant classes, and those who were the mainstay of the free market, to flight.

It was in the 1950s that the foreign minorities who had figured prominently in the economic life of Egypt after the cotton boom of the 1860s, and who had drawn that country into the web of the world economy, would be sent packing. The Jews and the Greeks and the Italians would take with them their skills and habits. The military class, and the Fabian socialists around them, distrusted free trade and the marketplace and were determined to rule over them or without them.

The Egyptian way would help tilt the balance against the private sector in other Arab lands as well. In Iraq, the Jews of the country, on its soil for well over two millennia, were dispossessed and banished in 1950-51. They had mastered the retail trade and were the most active community in the commerce of Baghdad. Some Shiite merchants stepped into their role, but this was short-lived. Military officers and ideologues of the Baath Party from the "Sunni triangle"—men with little going for them save their lust for wealth and power—came into possession of the country and its oil wealth. They, like their counterparts in Egypt, were believers in central planning and "social equality." By the 1980s, Saddam Hussein, a Sunni thug born from crushing poverty, would come to think of the wealth of the country as his own.

In Libya, a deranged Moammar Gadhafi did Saddam one better. After his 1969 military coup, he demolished the private sector in 1973 and established what he called "Islamic Socialism." Gadhafi's so-called popular democracy basically nationalized the entire economy, rendering the Libyan people superfluous by denying them the skills and the social capital necessary for a viable life.

In his 1944 masterpiece, "The Road to Serfdom," Hayek wrote that in freedom-crushing totalitarian societies "the worst get on top." In words that described the Europe of his time but also capture the contemporary Arab condition, he wrote: "To be a useful assistant in the running of a totalitarian state, it is not enough that a man should be prepared to accept specious justification of vile deeds; he must himself be prepared actively to break every moral rule he

has ever known if this seems necessary to achieve the end set for him. Since it is the supreme leader who alone determines the ends, his instruments must have no moral convictions of their own."

This well describes the decades-long brutal dictatorship of Syria's Hafez al-Assad, and now his son Bashar's rule. It is said that Hafez began his dynasty with little more than a modest officer's salary. His dominion would beget a family of enormous wealth: The Makhloufs, the in-laws of the House of Assad, came to control crucial sectors of the Syrian economy.

The Alawites, the religious sect to which the Assad clan belongs, had been poor peasants and sharecroppers, but political and military power raised them to new heights. The merchants of Damascus and Aleppo, and the landholders in Homs and Hama, were forced to submit to the new order. They could make their peace with the economy of extortion, cut Alawite officers into long-established businesses, or be swept aside.

But a decade or so ago this ruling bargain—subsidies and economic redistribution in return for popular quiescence—began to unravel. The populations in Arab lands had swelled and it had become virtually impossible to guarantee jobs for the young and poorly educated. Economic nationalism, and the war on the marketplace, had betrayed the Arabs. They had the highest unemployment levels among developing nations, the highest jobless rate among the young, and the lowest rates of economic participation among women. The Arab political order was living on borrowed time, and on fear of official terror.

Attempts at "reform" were made. But in the arc of the Arab economies, the public sector of one regime became the private sector of the next. Sons, sons-in-law and nephews of the rulers made a seamless transition into the rigged marketplace when "privatization" was forced onto stagnant enterprises. Of course, this bore no resemblance to market-driven economics in a transparent system. This was crony capitalism of the worst kind, and it was recognized as such by Arab populations.

Indeed, this economic plunder was what finally severed the bond between Hosni Mubarak and an Egyptian population known for its timeless patience and stoicism.

The sad truth of Arab social and economic development is that the free-market reforms and economic liberalization that remade East Asia and Latin America bypassed the Arab world. This is the great challenge of the Arab Spring and of the forces that brought it about. The marketplace has had few, if any, Arab defenders. If the tremendous upheaval at play in Arab lands is driven by a desire to capture state power—and the economic prerogatives that come with political power—the revolution will reproduce the failures of the past.

In Yemen, a schoolteacher named Amani Ali, worn out by the poverty and anarchy of that poorest of Arab states, recently gave voice to a sentiment that has been the autocrats' prop: "We don't want change," he said. "We don't want freedom. We want food and safety." True wisdom, and an end to their road to serfdom, will only come when the Arab people make the connection between economic and political liberty.

Mr. Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is co-chairman of Hoover's Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The "Freedom-Loving Rebels" Become Reactionary Oppressors

By Barry Rubin

One of the best ways to understand our current mess in intellectual life is through what I call the three option situation. In the past, something has been unfair (position one). What should be done according to democracy and Enlightenment values is to correct it by fairness (position two). But instead the dominant ideology wants to make it unfair in the opposite direction (position three). Thus, the situation remains arguably just as bad instead of being made better. The dominant idea of justice is merely to switch victims rather than try to make nobody a victim....

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Take Lebanon for Example (Hizballah Did): There's Something About a New York Times Editorial...

By Barry Rubin

...that truly embodies the spirit of the era. And in this era the mainstream spirit is to ignore reality and construct a fantasyland. Case in point (as Rod Serling used to say on The Twilight Zone), an editorial entitled "The Long Pursuit of Justice in Lebanon." The editorial deals with the fact that four Hizballah figures, one of them very senior, have been indicted by the international tribunal for their involvement in assassinating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The editorial is six paragraphs long. It tells us that Hizballah is:

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood, Sensing Power, Now Opposes Protests as Zionist Plot

By Barry Rubin

Here’s how revolutions—at least ultimately undemocratic ones—work. During the initial phase, when protests are against the old regime, they are cheered as symbols of freedom. Once the old regime has been overthrown, however, protests against government policies immediately become actions by counterrevolutionary subversives that should be suppressed.

The scene switches to…the great Egyptian democratic revolution.

The official Muslim Brotherhood website, Ikhwan Online, has now accused former Mubarak government saboteurs and “their Zionist allies” of trying to destabilize Egypt by infiltrating ongoing protests in Tahrir Square. That opens the door, of course, to a future Egyptian government banning demonstrations on the grounds that they are being fomented by counterrevolutionary reactionary Zionist American imperialist running dogs.

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Egyptian Election Postponed to November?

By Barry Rubin

The Egyptian military junta has named an election commission to start work on September 18. This means that a parliamentary election will not be held before November, the first time a postponement has been announced. There are two main reasons for this change: the country isn't ready to carry out a free election and many parties want more time to organize since the Muslim Brotherhood is so far ahead of them. The question of course is whether they would use this additional time to do the hard work of assembling reasonably united parties and lists. I doubt it but we will see.
To see all of my articles on PajamasMedia, go here.

"Palestine," The World's Most Economically and Politically Coddled Entity

By Barry Rubin

SkyNews reporter Tim Marshall points out what other reporters don't...point out.

"There are well over 200 NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza, and 30% of the GDP here comes from international aid. Palestinians are among the most foreign aid funded people in the world and the place is awash with money....

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sudan's "Two-State Solution"

By Barry Rubin

Good news from the Middle East is that rarest of all things. Solutions (however imperfect or even temporary) to conflicts there is equally rare. That’s why the creation of a new country, South Sudan, is so significant after years of strife between the northern and southern parts of that country due largely to their religious and racial differences. This development also leads to an interesting question: Will south Sudan be a purely African-oriented state or will it play some part in the Middle East?

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Congress Gets Tough on Palestinian Authority; Obama Administration Doesn’t

By Barry Rubin

The Associated Press reports:

"American aid to the Palestinians is in jeopardy over their ties to the terrorist group Hamas, unwillingness to restart negotiations with Israel and push for statehood at the United Nations over U.S. resistance, congressional Republicans and Democrats warned on Tuesday."

But why is Congress taking the lead on this threat? Because the Obama Administration supports continued aid no matter what happens....

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Obama Administration New Achievement: Messing Up Turkey, Syria, and Libya Within 24 Hours

By Barry Rubin

It's truly amazing that literally every day the Obama Administration finds a new way to mess up the Middle East. July 14-15, 2011, is a new record since it damaged Western interests and any hope for a stable future in three countries almost simultaneously!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Prescription for Egypt: A Muslim Brotherhood Landslide

The votes are in for the leadership of Egypt's pharmicist association. And the results? A Muslim Brotherhood secretary general with more than 50 percent in a four-candidate race. Its candidates also won most of the seats on the governing council, control half of the gouvernate councils and a large portion of the group's other bodies and sub-organizations. The Brotherhood always does very well in such professional groups as those of the doctors, lawyers, and engineers. This of course belies the stereotype that it only appeals to the uneducated masses. Of course, it appeals to the uneducated masses, too. The whole situation makes me feel sick. But not sick enough to go to a Muslim Brotherhood pharmacist for medicine!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Arab League: Tells U.S. Who Can and Cannot Be Thrown Out of Power

By Barry Rubin

New Arab League leader Nabil Elaraby said that the United States has no right to call for Syrian President [dictator] Bashar al-Assad's ouster. In fact, he added, "Syria has entered a new era and is now moving on the road of a genuine reform."

So for your guidance, here's the Arab League policy checklist:
Oust [Egyptian President Husni] Mubarak: yes
Oust [Libyan leader Muammar] Qadhafi: yes
Oust [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad: no
Recognize Palestinian state in conflict with all previous international commitments: yes

The Obama Administration's "Mission Accomplished" Fallacy in the War on Terrorism

By Barry Rubin

Leon Panetta, leaving the CIA directorship post to become secretary of defense, and General David Petraeus, leaving the job of commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to become CIA chief, have just come close to declaring victory in the war against terrorism, though that's a phrase the Obama Administration refuses to use.

Good news, says Panetta. Once the United States knocks off about 20 al-Qaida leaders currently in Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and North Africa, that organization will be out of commission. And while the Taliban cannot be quickly wiped out, says Petraeus, it can be "neutralized" so that it won't cause much trouble in future.

Uh-oh. Here's my proposed headline: Obama Administration Says: Make Deal with September 11 Accomplices. How's that sound? That's what's really going on, a deal with the terrorists and not a defeat of them.

And there's much worse to come in this policy.

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The Federal Bureaucracy Is A White Elephant, Not A Sacred Cow

By Barry Rubin

As a native-born Washingtonian (Columbia Hospital for Women) whose family arrived in the city when President Theodore Roosevelt was in office, I note an omission in all the budget/economic debate that amazes me.

It is scarcely a secret in Washington that Federal government employees generally don't work real hard. Sure, that's what people will say when they're interviewed in the mass media or the propaganda coming from the Federal employees unions. But people in the nation's capital know that isn't true. There is massive over-staffing, make-work, and totally unnecessary spending. People justify themselves because they run "projects" and enforce regulations. But most of these projects don't actually achieve anything while many of the
regulations either bring no change for the better or actually make things worse.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Incredibly Significant Missing Element in Egypt's Revolution

By Barry Rubin

As I always say, the most important stories about the Middle East--that really explain the region--are right there on the surface but are nonetheless neglected. Here's one: there has not been a single, not a single, demonstration in Egypt against political Islamism.

Think about it. There is a powerful Muslim Brotherhood, openly seeking state power and Egypt's fundamental transformation into an Islamist state. Then there are the Salafists--a new label applied to even more radical Islamist groups--that were in the past simply called by the name of the individual organization. There used to be two major ones. Why the use of "Salafist" now? Because there are too many to count.

And yet, despite this threat, not only to Egypt as a whole but daily life, there has been no organization of a demonstration, or a public campaign, or a Facebook campaign against the factor likely to produce a new dictatorship.

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Obama Era Updates Famous Charles Atlas, “97 Pound Weakling” Ad

By Barry Rubin

How would the famous Charles Atlas, 97-pound weakling ad be rewritten in the Obama era  as a foreign policy statement?

One of my favorite satirical pieces that I've ever written.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

U.S. Policy on Syria Changes For the Better, Sort Of

By Barry Rubin

It took 2.5 years, months of massive revolutionary upheaval, and a violent attack on the embassy in Damascus but U.S. policy toward Syria is finally changing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked:“President [Bashar al-] Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power….”Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.”

Hooray! Hooray! Oops! For despite this major step forward, the Obama Administration can’t stop itself from setting up a new potential disaster. For how are they going about this regime transition effort? Why, with Syria’s neighbor, Turkey. The regime thinks it can create a sphere of influence for itself in Syria. In other words, Turkish interests (as defined by the regime) and American interests in Syria are diametrically opposed! Obama is relying on a mediator who will support an Islamist state in Syria or at least one dominated by Islamist forces.

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Syrian Revolutionary Song Says It All

By Barry Rubin
Wow, watch this less-than-four-minute video and you get the flavor of the Middle East and the "Arab Spring" in every respect. It's an amazing story.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

News Flash: Syrian Regime Mob Attacks U.S. Embassy

By Barry Rubin

In Damascus, a mob organized by the Asad regime attacked the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus. The French guards fired into the air and the demonstrators stopped; the U.S. Marines didn’t fire and the mob surged into the embassy breaking windows and wrecking at least part of the building.

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Why Liberals and Democrats Should Oppose Obama's Policies

By Barry Rubin

How ironic that liberals and Democrats who have no difficulty believing that islam has been hijacked by extremists have no notion that they have been hijacked by the far left.

A coalition of 1960s' New Leftists and what used to be called the party's McGovernite wing has taken over using a brilliant strategy of propaganda and dissimulation. Ah, for the relatively good old days of Bill Clinton, a man who for all his multiple faults, understood that he had to govern somewhere from within sight of the political center.

Why is it that while liberals/Democrats constantly claim the Republican Party has been taken over by its far right wing, many conservatives/Republicans constantly claim that Obama is a typical liberal/Democrat? Why don't more critics of the current policies say instead that the Democratic Party has been taken over by its far left wing and no longer represents the world view of mainstream Democratic voters and leaders of the past?

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

New York Times Bites Israel By Lying About the "Flytilla"

By Barry Rubin

Saying that the New York Times misreported on the Middle East in a way deliberately intended to be biased against Israel is like writing an article with the headline, "Dog Bites Man!" Still, since this behavior is so often unintentionally humorous, I can't resist quoting the lead of the newspaper's main story on the "flytilla" attempt to disrupt Israel's airport and air travel:

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Obama Extends Hand; America's Enemies Extend Fist

By Barry Rubin

There’s a remarkable exchange from a May 2009 presidential press conference that is extraordinarily revealing.

Question: “Aren’t you concerned that your outstretched hand has been interpreted by extremists, especially [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, [Hizballah leader] Nasrallah, [Hamas leader] Meshal, as weakness?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it’s not clear to me why my outstretched hand would be interpreted as weakness.

Yes, that’s the problem, isn’t it? I have often written that Obama does not accept the most basic principles of international relations.

Also includes discussion of the worldview of a leader from Egypt's most important "moderate" party.

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Top U.S. Military Officer: Iran Is In a Shooting War With America. OK, Where's the Policy Response?

By Barry Rubin

Let's pretend we are living in a sane and normal era with a sane and normal U.S. government. In that context, read the following paragraph from the Wall Street Journal and then let's think out loud about it.

"The top U.S. military officer accused Iran...of shipping new supplies of deadly weapons to its militia allies in Iraq, in what he described as Tehran's bid to take credit for forcing American troops to go home....`Iran is very directly supporting extremist Shiite groups which are killing our troops,' said Adm[iral] Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. `There is no question they are shipping high-tech weapons in there…that are killing our people. And the forensics prove that.'"

What does the Obama Administration do? Nothing. What should it do?

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Friday, July 8, 2011

The Flytilla Farce And The International Campaign For Repressive Dictatorship and Against Israel

By Barry Rubin

After the failure of the Gaza flotilla, Western leftists and their Arab, often Islamist, allies took up a new way to harass Israel, dubbed the “flytilla.” Hundreds of protestors sought to fly were to fly into Israel’s sole international airport and demonstrate along with radical Israeli supporters.

An analysis and the breaking story straight from Ben-Gurion Airport

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The Obama Administration Shows How Not To Conduct Diplomacy: Lesson 1, Tipping Your Hand

By Barry Rubin

Professor Hilal Khashan is a political science professor at the American  University of Beirut. Although I don't agree with all of his points, he has written a good article on the battle over reform, democracy, and the status quo in syria and Lebanon, available here.

One point is worth repeating about U.S. policy:

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is Muslim Brotherhood Getting Weaker? There's Lots of Wishful Thinking Involved

By Barry Rubin

The main U.S. newspapers are running articles on how internal splits are weakening the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Some of this is real but there is also a strong element of wishful thinking involved that exaggerates some real problems. Yet after all the important issue is not just whether Brotherhood people win but whether radical Islamists win. Afterward they will be able to work together.

In addition, the new election law--still to be approved by the leadership junta–favors the Islamists.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Interview on Obama Policy toward Israel and Other Issues

By Barry Rubin

You can see it here.

Why Is the U.S. in Libya? Good Question

By Barry Rubin

Listening to President Barack Obama talk about the administration’s Libya policy is a strange experience. He makes various arguments justifying the war there along the lines of: dictator Muammar Qadhafi is a bad guy, he has killed a lot of Americans in the past, and he was threatening to kill his own people so the United States must protect them.

As one listens to this, however, it seems as if even Obama doesn’t believe what his teleprompter is saying. The arguments are ridiculously transparent and if the media wanted to be critical they could tear Obama apart on the issue.

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Gallup Poll Spinning; In Fact Jewish Democrats Are Far More Disaffected From Obama As All Democrats

By Barry Rubin

Yid with a Lid is one of the best bloggers around and in this article he shows it. Briefly, Lid took a Gallup poll claiming that Jewish support for Obama was comparable to that of all Americans--and still quite high--to show how the figures were completely misleading. In fact, Jewish Democrats are far more likely than other Democrats to have turned away from Obama. It is reasonable to think that this is largely a result of his policy toward Israel.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Two Good Articles on the Gaza Flotilla

I want to call your attention to two excellent articles on the Gaza flotilla that I commissioned and edited for PajamasMedia:

Hadar Sela, why the flotilla didn't float 

Yochanan Visser the dutch flotilla as a case study of political warfare

Egypt Gas Pipeline to Israel Sabotaged Again: A Consequence of Egypt's Revolution

By Barry Rubin

For the third time since February, terrorists have blown up the gas pipeline from Egypt that provides 45 percent of Israel's natural gas. As I predicted, this pipeline will never function normally again. This serious economic disruption is the first material cost to Israel of Egypt's revolution. The Obama Administration's help in bringing down a stable (yes, a dictatorial regime but prepare for much worse) has already damaged Israel's economy and security. And this is not the end of the story by a long shot.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Hizballah Brags About Waging War on America; The U.S. Government Ignores It

By Barry Rubin

Sometimes a big scoop is lying in plain sight and this often happens nowadays because either the mass media does not pick up a big story or the experts don’t properly analyze it. So while what I am about to tell you has been in the public domain for more than three years, it is of tremendous policy importance yet has been totally neglected:

Hizballah, the Shia group that now dominates Lebanon’s new government, is at war with the United States in Iraq.

Consider that this fact—as we will see in a moment—has been known to high-ranking U.S. government officials for years but has had zero impact on policy. The Obama Administration has accepted Hizballah’s political power as well as its Iranian and Syrian sponsorship, with no real opposition. It does not regard Hizballah as an enemy and senior officials favor official contacts with that terrorist group.

Consider this information from the public record and the statements of U.S. officials that was published almost three years ago:

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Investigation Accuses Four Hizballah Officials of Killing Lebanon's Leading Political Figure

By Barry Rubin

Years of waiting--though leaks have been plentiful--have just about ended with the word from the international tribunal that four Hizballah officials, including the group's deputy military commander Mustafa Badreddine were involved in killing Lebanon's former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005. Yet Hizballah is now the leading force in Lebanon's government while its partner in the killing, the Syrian dictatorship, is Lebanon's foreign patron.

The indictments are setting off a potential crisis in Lebanon

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How I Won the Civil War, Or At Least A Small Part of It

By Barry Rubin

“Saddle up,” said the colonel. For those with horses that was a literal order but for my Third U.S. Regiment, we marched across the Gettysburg hills. It’s July 3, 2011, but feels like July 3, 1863.

A Union army uniform, dark blue heavy wool jacket, light blue wool pants, forage cap, and heavy Springfield musket, is not the best garb for a humid 90 degree heat, especially accompanied by heavy shoes, cartridge bag, full canteen (in my case, ice tea), huge bayonet, and haversack for personal possessions, .

The artillery opened up on both sides with a deafening roar and pre-placed explosions blew up as “shells” hit. Thousands of spectators watched from the grandstands. Up to our detail rode a captain with orders to join dismounted cavalry skirmishers between the lines, hold off the Confederates as long as possible, then fall back to the reserves. If the Confederates broke through, we’d charge and push them back.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Egypt’s Religious Establishment Takes On The Muslim Brotherhood

By Barry Rubin

In a major new development an Islamic force has arisen to challenge the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and support a more moderate regime in that country. This is a surprising opponent but the only one that could be of significance: al-Azhar University. Why is Egypt's Islamic establishment taking on Egypt's Islamists? Simple: survival and self-interest.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thomas Friedman, Courtier, Not Expert, Calls for Revolution in Israel?

By Barry Rubin

The article explains Friedman's new themes--which seem to echo those of Obama and to be the new anti-Israel line: Those Israelis are stupid and stubborn. If only they knew their own interests they would do whatever Obama wanted and accept a Palestinian state right away (for virtually nothing in return). Oh yes, and in the words of the ever-elegant Friedman, saying Obama is anti-Israel is "Crap."

Actually, I think the word "crap" best describes the Obama administration's perceptions of the Middle East, policies toward the region, and handling of Israel-Palestinian issues. The difference is that I can prove my case and Friedman can't prove his.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Lebanon: I Was Wrong! Hizballah (Plus Syria and Iran) Is Even More in Control

By Barry Rubin

I've written that Hizballah will have 60 percent of the seats in Lebanon's new government, with most of the rest in the hands of Syrian-Iranian clients. This is a disaster for Western interests. Lebanon is now in the revolutionary Islamist camp along with Iran, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the Turkish government.

But I was wrong! There have been some changes and now Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati has announced his cabinet. And guess what? Hizballah has 70 percent of the ministries! Does the Obama Administration have any serious policy reaction to Lebanon being controlled by a radical Islamist terrorist organization that is a client of Iran? You know, those people who killed 242 American soldiers a few years back, kidnapped and at times murdered other Americans, and waged a war against Israel in 2006 after which the United States and UN promised to help disarm them, block their arms' imports, and keep them out of southern Lebanon?

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