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Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

Ahmadinejad: Annihilate Israel, ‘Axis of Unity of World Powers’

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on August 2, 2012

 by Chana Ya’ar

 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again called for the annihilation of Israel, which he labeled “the axis of unity of the world hegemonic powers.”

Speaking in advance of International Qods Day, set this year for August 17, Ahmadinejad repeated his annual litany of hate for the Jewish State in a meeting with ambassadors and embassy personnel of Islamic nations in Tehran, according to the official state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), quoting from a statement posted on the website of his presidential office.

“It has now been some 400 years that a horrendous Zionist clan has been ruling the major world affairs, and behind the scenes of the major power circles, in political, media, monetary and banking organizations in the world, they have been the decision makers…” the Iranian president claimed.

“The Zionist regime is both the symbol of the hegemony of the Zionism over the world and the means in the hand of the oppressor powers for expansion of their hegemony in the region and in the world,” he went on.

“The Qods Day is not merely a strategic solution for the Palestinian problem, as it is to be viewed as a key for solving the world problems; any freedom lover and justice seeker in the world must do its best for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the path for the establishment of justice and freedom in the world,” he declared.

“Zionism is the modern times plight of the human society and when we meet the European politicians they say speak transparently about everything, but they refrain from talking about the Zionist regime, which proves that Israel is the axis of unity of the world hegemonic powers,” he added.


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Update: Afghan teenager brutally maimed by her Taliban-sympathizing husband

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on July 30, 2012

Aisha on the cover of Time

Aisha on the cover of Time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


 Nearly a year after we first reported the story of Bibi Aisha, a young Afghan teenager brutally maimed by her Taliban-sympathizing husband and his family, she’s been relocated to the U.S. and become a media phenomenon. But as Gayle Tzemach Lemmon reports, her story does not yet have a happy ending.
In a wood-paneled office in a sprawling ranch home tucked away in a pastoral equestrian community, a young woman with shiny shoulder-length hair held back by a single barrette hunts for Pashto-language songs on YouTube.
She is Bibi Aisha, the young woman whose image ignited a heated political debate when her maimed face graced the cover of Time magazine this summer under the headline “What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan.” Her story, first reported in The Daily Beast last December, later appeared on World News with Diane Sawyer, which documented her trip to the U.S. for reconstructive surgery to replace the nose and ears her husband and his family severed as punishment for daring to flee after years of abuse. Since then, Bibi Aisha’s case has captivated international news audiences, who now are awaiting photos of the new nose the young woman came to the U.S. to receive.
Bibi Aisha attends a gala at the SLS Hotel on Oct. 8, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo: Arun Nevader / Getty Images)
Until now the media has largely portrayed Bibi Aisha’s story as a tragic story with a made-for-TV ending about a young woman’s journey to the United States for a second chance at a new face and a fresh start. The reality is that rebuilding a life, particularly one marked by harsh years of abuse, is far more difficult and complicated than headlines permit. So far doctors who have evaluated Bibi Aisha say that she is not yet emotionally ready for the endurance test of reconstructive surgery, as she continues to suffer from seizure-like incidents in which she recedes deep into herself, pulling at her hair and appearing to flash back to her past. In the past 3 1/2 months, she has been in and out of local hospitals and shuttled among host families, with staff and volunteers from the Grossman Burn Foundation, which sponsored her trip to the U.S., fighting to figure out the best way forward for the troubled young woman.
In a culture that revels in happy endings, Bibi Aisha’s story is a lesson in the understanding, patience, and determination real life often requires, and the depth of psychological wounds caused by years of severe abuse that not even the world’s best plastic surgeons can easily fix.
For those who have helped to care for Aisha during the last few months, it has been a wild ride. The high-profile patient they brought from Afghanistan needed far more than simply a set of surgeries, they quickly realized. Aisha has endured prolonged beatings and deprivation for much of her life. The maiming that severed her nose and ears was only the most extreme abuse at the hands of a husband and in-laws to whom her father had given her as a girl to settle a criminal dispute between the families. Her mother died when Aisha was only a child.
Landing in Los Angeles, with its shimmering kaleidoscope of sun, glitz, and gridlocked traffic, is often a shock even for Americans from other parts of the country. For a girl from a rural and remote part of southern Afghanistan who had never been to school, or even lived with running indoor water and constant power until a year ago, the transition was more than daunting.
 “She made great strides during the nine months she spent in the shelter,” says Esther Hyneman of Women for Afghan Women, noting that WfAW resisted pressure for months to send her from Kabul to the United States immediately for surgery. Those strides were obvious to those who visited with Aisha in Afghanistan. When she first arrived in the shelter, where I met her last November, she was a bewildered young woman whose piercing cries startled the other shelter residents. By the time we spoke this summer, she was a poised young woman who spoke clearly and eloquently about her desire to rebuild her life. “We did not send her until we thought she would be OK. With hindsight, perhaps we should have given her more time,” says Hyneman. “I am not sure there was a way to predict that.”
Yet while Aisha has struggled emotionally, she has shown remarkable agility in adapting to the country now hosting her. The young woman who never set foot in a formal classroom has quickly taken to the Internet and the joys of YouTube, and even has begun to teach herself English using an online program designed for American schoolchildren. She is a deft text-messager and an avid cellphone user. And she has blossomed as a jewelry designer, a skill she says she first learned in prison in Kandahar, following her escape from her husband, and later honed in more formal training at the Kabul Women for Afghan Women shelter. Grossman staff and volunteers have provided Aisha with beads from the local Michael’s craft store, and she has created a collection of elegant beaded necklaces and bracelets, some translucent, some pearl, and some in vibrant hues. A number of women who have met Bibi Aisha and wanted to help have found customers for her creations.
None of this progress, however, means that Aisha is yet ready for surgery, according to doctors. They say that she eventually will be emotionally strong enough for the reconstructive operations required to rebuild her nose and ears, but they want to be certain she is more comfortable in her surroundings and better able to handle her emotions before beginning a series of painful and temporarily disfiguring operations over a three- to four-month time frame.
In the meantime, she has the remarkably real-looking and painstakingly crafted prosthetic nose created by Dr. Stefan Knauss, which she wore at the October gala for the Grossman Burn Foundation, where she stood on a red carpet before a throng of flashing cameras and met such notables as former first lady Laura Bush and California first lady Maria Shriver. Aisha applies the prosthetic herself with a glue-dipped Q-tip, though she often finds it uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Grossman Burn Foundation staff and volunteers have sought to provide emotional care and a sense of close-knit community for Aisha amid all the unpredictability, even hosting her very first birthday party, cake and Afghan music included. Often they have been at a loss to know exactly what help she needed and in what order to offer it. What is certain, though, is that this young woman whose case has now drawn attention from around the globe has touched them deeply.
“A couple of times she has made me cry,” says Pari Moayer, a school nurse with bright eyes and a kind and soothing demeanor. Moayer, who once treated injured soldiers on the front lines of the Iran-Iraq War, formed a close bond with the young woman, visiting Aisha nearly every day and later making room for her at her own house for several weeks. She remembers in particular one night around <:time hour=”22″ minute=”0″>10 p.m., when Aisha told her she was hungry. Bringing in a plate of freshly cooked soft scrambled eggs, Moayer said she nearly choked up when the young woman spent several minutes thanking her profusely for the meal, a maternal gesture about which Moayer had thought little. “She told me no one had ever cooked for her like that since her mother died,” she says. “You can make someone’s life change and make them so happy with the little, little things that you can offer them.”
It is the young woman’s resilience that has left the most lasting impression.
“Aisha has just had, from what I have learned, a life of extreme abuse since her mother died,” says Rebecca Grossman of the Grossman Burn Foundation, who worked with Women for Afghan Women to arrange Aisha’s arrival in the Unites States. “She has been treated so badly and been so abused, and that is why it is amazing that she is as playful and joyful as she is.”
Grossman, whose husband, Dr. Peter Grossman, plans to perform the surgery, says she has learned a great deal from her experience helping Bibi Aisha and Zubaida, another young woman from Afghanistan whose burn injuries required years of operations in the United States. The reality is, intervening is often far more complicated than it sounds.
“It is so difficult and so challenging to bring people from other parts of the world to America,” says Grossman, sitting in her living room surrounded by her children’s toys. Many times the patients the Grossman Burn Foundation brings to Los Angeles for treatment find it difficult to function in their native villages and cities after the disjointed experience of life amid the attention, amenities, and luxuries of modern life in Los Angeles. The story of one young boy whose case came to Grossman from a U.S. serviceman serving in Afghanistan’s Farah province haunts her in particular. After months of living with a host family in the U.S. while undergoing surgery to recover from a harrowing injury that left his ears and neck connected, the young boy returned to his family, where he struggled to learn to live once more in hardship and poverty. Today, having managed a number of cases in which the Grossman Burn Foundation has hosted men and women from economically devastated Asian and African countries, she thinks the resources dedicated to individual cases might be better devoted to supporting doctors in their native countries so that the arduous cultural transitions might be avoided.
Regardless of the challenges, Aisha, for her part, remains determined to get the surgery and to create a new life for herself, one in which she makes her own decisions. Women for Afghan Women has now brought the young woman to the East Coast, where it hopes she will find the solace and stability she needs to prepare her for the path ahead and surgery down the road. They will hire teachers to help her learn English and other skills. And she will continue her jewelry-making. To cover her expenses, Women for Afghan Women has set up a trust fund, as it cannot use any current grant money on Bibi Aisha’s behalf.
“Our hopes are that she will find comfort here and that that comfort will allow her to make progress on many levels, intellectually, socially, and emotionally,” says Hyneman, who stresses that no media access to the young woman will be permitted so that she can spend more time getting situated and dealing with her emotional injuries. “She has very strong, native intelligence, and it is wonderful that that intelligence is intact. So we think she has a lot of potential, but she is damaged, and how much the damage will interfere with that potential for development is not yet known. The best thing we can do is keep an open mind, remember to be flexible, remember to listen to her, to see where she is and to not think that we have all the answers for her. We don’t.”
Like Grossman and Moayer, Hyneman says she has learned a great deal in the time she has known this exceptional young woman whose case has sparked so much emotion in so many people.
“I have learned to be suspicious of my own expectations,” says Hyneman. “I have learned that we have the best intentions and great hopes for people in this situation, and we do the best we can, but we have to realize that we don’t have control. They have to go ahead at their own pace. That is a very difficult thing to learn.”
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. She has spent the last five years reporting on women entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict regions, including Afghanistan, Rwanda and Bosnia. Her upcoming book, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, will be published by HarperCollins in March 2011.

Thanks to The Daily Beast For this article, MFBsr

Posted in Islam, Politics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Will the Rebels Win Syria’s Civil War and What That Means

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on July 28, 2012

By Barry Rubin          












 The tide seems to be turning in Syria. While the civil war is far from over, the regime is clearly weakening; the rebels are expanding their operations and effectiveness. There have also been more high-level defections. What does this mean and why is this happening?

There are three main factors that are making a rebel victory seem more likely.

First, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Turkey’s facilitation and U.S. coordination, are sending arms to the opposition.

Second, the regime has been rushing the same trusted units around the country to put down upsurges. After many months of battle, these forces are getting tired and stretched thin.

Third, President Bashar al-Assad really has nothing to offer the opposition. He won’t leave and he can’t share power. His strategy of brutal suppression and large-scale killing can neither make the opposition surrender nor wipe it out. Even if he kills civilians and demonstrators, the rebel military forces can pull back to attack another day.

Even though the fighting may go on for months, then, it is time to start assessing what outcomes might look like. Here are some suggestions:

–Ethnic massacres? While there have been reports of such actions—the regime killing Sunni Muslims; the opposition killing Alawites and Christians—what we’ve seen already might be nothing compared to what is to come. Such murders might take place during the civil war or after it ends.

–An Alawite fortress? Assad has built up his defenses in northwest Syria where most of the Alawites live to make a last stand or to try to hold out. How would such a final phase in the war go and could Assad keep the rebels from taking this stronghold?

–Obama Administration bragging rights? We’ve already had leaks about U.S. covert involvement in the anti-Assad effort. If the rebels seem to be winning or do in fact win the war before November, the White House will claim Syria as proof of its tough, triumphant foreign policy. (The elections in Libya, in which reportedly the Islamists were held off by a U.S.-backed government, will be cited as another example of success.)

–But at great risk. What if the Obama Administration increasingly claims credit for regime change in Syria and then has to take blame for massacres or an Islamist takeover?

–The Kurdish factor. Syria’s Kurds have essentially walled off their northeast section of the country. Their armed militia, helped by their compatriots in Iraq, can hold out against all but the most concerted force. The Kurds generally view the regime as repressive Arab nationalists while they see the opposition as Islamists and Arab nationalists. Would a new regime in Damascus make a deal with them for autonomy, or would it be tempted to try to conquer the area? If so, how would the opposition’s Western backers react to such an assault?

–And then there’s the biggest question of all: Who among the opposition forces would take power? Syria is quite different from such relatively homogeneous countries as Egypt and Tunisia. Let’s just list the different groupings:

Alawites now rule and in general support the regime. The treatment of the Alawites—who pretend to be Shia Muslims but really aren’t Muslims at all—would be a key indicator for a new regime. Would it seek conciliation or would it massacre large numbers of them? Unless Assad can hold out in the northwest, the Alawites will have little role in a post-Assad Syria.

Christians also generally support the regime because they fear Islamists taking power. Will they face massacres and flee the country or will the new regime work to accommodate them?

Alawites and Christians together number more than one-fourth of the country’s population.

The Kurds have been discussed above. Their goal is autonomy, one that a new central government could meet but will it want to grant them such status?

The Druze, who live in the southwest of the country, have not played a major role in the rebellion. They tend to accommodate themselves to the status quo. Will they organize communally and seek some autonomy? The Druze strategy is of special interest to Israel since they live closer to the Golan Heights and, indeed, Israel rules a Druze population there most of whose members identify as Syrians. Would a new regime’s treatment of the Druze make the Golan Heights’ residents more rebellious against Israel or more eager to remain under Israeli rule? Israel’s military intelligence commander has already warned of the danger of jihadists infiltrating into the border area, though one might add that Israel already has strong defenses in place there that would stop any cross-border attacks, a contrast of course with the Sinai.

And finally there are the Sunni Muslim Arabs who comprise about 60 percent of the population. As a group they would be the new rulers. But they are very much divided among themselves. On one hand there are the Islamists, both Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists; on the other hand there are urban moderates who are more proportionately numerous and politically astute than their Egyptian counterparts. Who will get the upper hand?

Yet even that is an incomplete inventory. In addition, there are many rural Sunni Arabs who could be described as traditionalists, who want a socially conservative state but could swing in either direction politically.

Last and certainly not least are the military officers who deserted Assad’s army and now run much of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA). They can be described as both technocrats and as Arab nationalists in varying degrees. Would they impose themselves on a new government?

The exile groups, including the U.S. backed Syrian National Council (SNC) seem to have little influence and prestige within the country. Would the Obama Administration and others try to force this Brotherhood-dominated group onto those who did the fighting?

At some point, one side or the other will win and at this time that winning side seems to be the opposition. It will establish a new central government in Damascus. That government will have to complete the conquest of the Alawite region and to decide on whether to grant some autonomy to the Kurds. A huge problem is whether it can, or wants to, prevent ethnic massacres. And of course there will be the question of who, and which political philosophy, will rule. I do not think Syria is going to fall apart. Everybody pretty much has a vested interest in the survival of the state as a whole, just as happened with Iraq.

As you can see there are many questions and unknowns about Syria’s future. These apply regardless of the timing of any rebel victory, and they are going to be major factors affecting the Middle East over the coming decades.

Posted in Islam, Politics, Syria | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Dozens hurt as Christian march attacked in Cairo

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on November 18, 2011

Hundreds of Coptic Christians marching in Cairo on Thursday came under attack by assailants throwing stones and bottles and 25 people were lightly injured in subsequent clashes, a security official said.
They were marching to demand justice for the Christian victims of a clash with soldiers in October that left at least 25 people dead, most of them Christians.
The official said the Copts were attacked in the northern Shoubra neighbourhood with stones and bottles, and that some among them responded in kind.
He said supporters of an Islamist candidate for upcoming parliamentary election joined in the attack on the Copts.
An AFP correspondent on the scene said hundreds of riot police were deployed to the area and that the clashes had eventually subsided.
Copts, who make up roughly 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people, complain of discrimination in the Muslim-majority country.
There has been a spike in sectarian clashes since a popular uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February.
The deadliest took place on October 9, when thousands of Christians protesting an attack on a church clashed with soldiers.
Witnesses said the soldiers fired on the demonstrators and ran them over with military vehicles, which the military denies.
The military said a number its soldiers were killed in the clash.


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Q&A: Edward Luttwak

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on September 6, 2011

Edward Luttwak is a rare bird whose peripatetic life and work are the envy of academics and spies alike. A well-built man who looks like he is in his mid-50s (he turns 70 next year), Luttwak—who was born in 1942 to a wealthy Jewish family in Arad, Romania, and educated in Italy and England—speaks with a resonant European accent that conveys equal measures of authority, curiosity, egomania, bluster, impatience, and good humor. He is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University, and he published his first bookCoup d’État: A Practical Handbook, at the age of 26. Over the past 40 years, he has made provocative and often deeply original contributions to multiple academic fields, including military strategy, Roman history, Byzantine history, and economics. He owns a large eco-friendly ranch in Bolivia and can recite poetry and talk politics in eight languages, a skill that he displayed during a recent four-hour conversation at his house, located on a quiet street in Chevy Chase, Md., by taking phone calls in Italian, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese, during which I wandered off to the porch, where I sat and talked with his lovely Israeli-born wife, Dalya Luttwak, a sculptor.

The walls of Luttwak’s donnish study—which is by far the nicest room in the Luttwaks’ house, with the best view, and might otherwise have served as the dining room, if Edward and Dalya were more like their neighbors—are lined with bookshelves containing the Roman classics, biographies of Winston Churchill, works on military history and strategy, intelligence gathering, Byzantine art, old atlases, and decorations and plaques from foreign governments. Luttwak’s work as a high-level strategic and intelligence consultant for the U.S. Defense Department, the National Security Council, the State Department, the Japanese government, and the defense departments and intelligence services of other countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East (he appears to be spending a lot of time in South Korea and China) is also augmented by a parallel life as an “operator,” about which he is both secretive and obviously proud.
While the details of Luttwak’s life as a private intelligence operative are sketchy, he has been actively involved in military and paramilitary operations sponsored by the U.S. government, foreign governments, and various private entities. By his own admission, he has been directly involved in attacks on physical targets, interdiction efforts, and the capture and interrogation of wanted persons—although “admission” is clearly the wrong word here, since he is almost boyishly eager for visitors to understand his familiarity with the nuts and bolts of special ops and cites his own field experience to support his estimations of people like Gen. David Petraeus, whose reputation as a counter-insurgency genius he dismisses as a fraud. He is also careful to state that his activities have never violated U.S. law. The Walter Mitty-ish component of Luttwak’s enthusiasm for his other life—academic by day, special operator by night—seems less significant in his psyche than a driving appetite for physical risk that has helped him understand military strategy and related policy questions in a way that the current generation of Western policymakers often does not.
Loved and loathed, and capable of living multiple lives, any one of which would quickly tire out a less intellectually and physically robust man, Luttwak glories in the undeniable fact that he is not the usual Washington think-tank product. His instinctive tendency to reject common wisdom as idiotic, combined with his need to prove that he is the smartest person in every room, has deprived him of the chance to shape events in the way that every policy intellectual not-so-secretly craves. Yet his first allegiance is clearly to the habits of mind that have made him one of the most brilliant strategic thinkers in America, capable of understanding the psychological and practical necessities that drive human action in a highly original, insightful and counterintuitive way.
We met last month, at the height of a rainstorm. What follows are selectively edited portions of the transcript of our interview, during which I made a point of not asking him about his childhood experience as a Jewish refugee in Europe, which seemed like a subject for a different conversation.
I think that if America had been able to tolerate a second Henry Kissinger, that person would have been you.
Kissinger at 88 is writing brochures for Kissinger Associates. His last book on China is one such work written by the staff at Kissinger Associates. It is designed to curry favor with the Chinese authorities and nothing else.
I know him personally very well, but he is such a deceptive person; he’s a habitual liar and dissembler. Although I’ve spent a lot of time talking to him, I have no insight on him at all. His book ends with a paean to U.S.-Chinese friendship and how every other country has to fit in. I have to review it for the TLS, but I’ve been delaying it by weeks because I don’t know whether it is a case of senility or utter corruption.
There are two differing interpretations of the events of the Arab Spring. The dominant one is: “Here is this marvelous wave of popular revolutions where everyone uses Facebook and Twitter to spread democratic ideas.” The other is that “Rickety state structures held together by repressive police and state apparatus are now collapsing into tribal bloodshed.”
Well, any dictatorship creates an unnatural environment, analogous to that of taking peasants from the field and putting them in an army, where they get uniforms and are drilled and disciplined. Dictatorships attempt to turn entire populations into well-drilled regiments. The North Korean regime takes it to the logical extreme of actually having the entire population drilled in regiments. The Ben Ali and Mubarak dictatorships were attempting to regiment their populations by having state structures imposed on them. Both of them, for example, were able to create loyal police forces.
Once the regiment dissolves, then the people are released and they revert to their natural order. They stop wearing uniforms, they put on the clothes they want, and they manifest the proclivities that they have. A few Egyptians are Westernized, hence they have exited Islam whatever their personal beliefs may be. But otherwise, there is no room for civilization in Egypt other than Islam, and the number of extremists that you need to make life impossible for the average Westernized or slightly Westernized Egyptian who wants to have a beer, for example, is very small. The number you need to close all the bars in Egypt is maybe 15 percent of the population.
Do you think stepping away from Mubarak was a mistake or it made no difference?
I think it made no difference. The regime was senile. Literally.
How much of a role do you think the so-called “democracy promotion” efforts of the United States under President George W. Bush, including the invasion of Iraq, played in the increasing instability of the Arab regimes, and how much of their collapse was the result of their own senility?
I will pretend that this is an easy question; it’s not. The easy answer is that Bush and the Bush Administration for a brief period of less than two years were on a democracy-promotion binge. They used a pickax and attacked a wall, seemingly making an impression, and perhaps they caused some structural damage. The Iraq War, with the defeat, humbling, and execution of a dictator, was a big blow with a pickax. On the other hand, when the regime becomes sufficiently involuted as to become hereditary, which is what happened in Syria and appeared to be happening in Egypt, then you are dealing with senility of the regime embodied: “The dictator is old.” So, both answers are true.
There have been many different explanations given over the past 10 years for the strength of the American-Israeli relationship, ranging from the idea that Israel has the best and most immediately deployable army in the Middle East, to the idea that a small cabal of wealthy and influential Jews has hijacked American foreign policy.
You mean the Z.O.G.? The Zionist Occupied Government?
Personally, from an emotional point of view, myself, as me, I prefer the Z.O.G. explanation above all others. I love the idea that the Zionists have sufficient power to actually occupy America, and through America to basically run the world. I love the idea of being a member of a secretive and powerful cabal. If you put my name Luttwak together with Perle and Wolfowitz and you search the Internet, you will get this little list of people who run the American government and the world, and I’m on it. I love that.
Anytime you need an added jolt of ego gratification, you open your laptop and confirm the fact that you rule the world.
In Pakistan, there are millions of people who go to schools where they are taught that I am the ruler of the universe. So, emotionally speaking, I would explain everything that happens by referring to the Z.O.G., the Zionist Occupied Government, which is run by a small cabal of people, and that I am one of them.
Now, if I’m forced to actually think about this question, I would say that the cleanest analytical way of understanding the American-Israeli relationship is to say that the post-1945 career of the United States as a world-meddling, imperialist power has forced Americans to be very foreign-oriented. Many American families have had their sons killed overseas, and many other Americans have become foreign-oriented for many reasons. Among them there is a group of Christians who read the Bible, who believe in the Bible to some degree as a document that registers God’s will. For them, Israel is the proof of the truth of the Bible. Hence, the notion that the United States should be supporting rather than opposing Israel has now become expected, which was absolutely not true in 1948 when the United States did every possible thing to prevent the existence of Israel by systematically intercepting arms flows to the Jews.
Luttwak Q&A
Therefore, if we in the Z.O.G. didn’t really run everything, and there was no Zionist influence, then this solid mass of foreign-aware Americans, who also happen to be Bible-believers—we’re talking 50 million people—to them, the only foreign policy that counts is America’s support for Israel. Period.
Many American Jews are viscerally uncomfortable with this kind of support. They say, “Oh, look at these Bible-thumping Christians who want to make us kiss Jesus. The only reason they like Israel is so they can turn it into a landing strip for their God.”
You are now invoking a second constant—
Why are so many Jews so stupid about politics?
They have not had a state for 2,000 years, they have had no power or responsibility and it will take centuries before they catch up with the instinctive political understanding that any ordinary Englishman has. They don’t understand politics, and of course they confuse their friends and their enemies, and that is the ultimate political proof of imbecility.
When you look at the current conduct of American policy in the Middle East, do you see any coherent policy or strategy?
Obama is no different than most previous administrations that come into office with ready-made solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Jimmy Carter was the first one, and his plan was redacted by Zbigniew Brzezinski. It led to Sadat’s journey to Jerusalem because his brilliant idea was to subject Egyptians and Israelis to a Soviet-American condominium, which was a terrible idea, and so Sadat created his own reality. It was really one of the funnier moments in history. The national security adviser officials, and I believe Brzezinski himself, came out with a lot of negative statements when Sadat first made his announcement because he was ruining their policy scheme, which was, of course, impossible.
Obama is in that tradition. He came in with an impossible policy scheme, which is first you get Israelis to stop agreeing to settlements, and then you proceed. Of course, that doesn’t make any sense. When you draw a border that is what matters. The Israelis removed all the settlements from Sinai without any American involvement in two minutes after the agreement was made with Egypt.
[The phone rings. Luttwak breaks into impossibly perfect Italian. I wander out onto the porch to talk to Dalya and return 20 minutes later, as he is finishing up the call.]
There’s nobody involved who is anti-Israeli like there were in the past, when there was a strong Arabist position in the State Department. The people in the Obama Administration read the New York Times and they don’t know Arabic, and therefore they are operating systematically with false categories. The fundamental error with regard to settlements is a very simple one: When borders are established, borders are established, and settlements are neither here nor there. This notion that when some faction of Israelis puts a camper on a hilltop that this changes anything is a fantasy.
A fantasy both on the part of the people who put the campers on the ground and also American policymakers.
They’re both equally deluded.
Do you anticipate violence this fall between the Israelis and the Palestinians?
I don’t anticipate violence this fall. War leads to peace. Peace leads to war. So, now logically we should have war. And the Iranians, of course, would love to pay for one. But the moment there is an intifada, the Palestinian regiment collapses and gangsters take over. So, the moment the violence escalates they stop fighting and they start talking peace. The moment the talking appears to be approaching an actual peace, they start an intifada.
Do you think the cost of the violence and other social ills that come out of the stalemate you are describing is something Israeli society can easily afford, or do you think there is any alternative to it?
I’m not sure it’s a cost.
Because the strategic depth that it affords and the control over those borders is more important?
Listen, my wife is a very good cook. And we have a housekeeper, who is an even better cook. It’s a weird situation, but I think my housekeeper is a better cook than any restaurant in Washington. She is a simple woman with no education, from Chile, and she just happens to have a superhuman talent. She being such a good cook, she achieves wonderful effects with very strange ingredients, and strange combinations of ingredients. Israel’s success as a state has been made possible by Arab threats of different kinds. Arab violence or threats of violence are part of the Israeli soup. There are certain levels of violence that are so high that they’re damaging, and there are also levels that are so low they are damaging. There is an optimum level of the Arab threat. I would say for about nine days of the 1973 war, the level of violence was much too high. Even when Israelis were successful, the level of violence was destroying the tissue of the state. Most of the time, the violence is positive.
When you say that the effects of Arab violence are positive, you mean that they generate social cohesion inside Israel?
Lenin taught, “Power is mass multiplied by cohesion.” Arab violence generates Jewish cohesion. Cohesion turns mass into power. Israel has had very small mass, very high cohesion. If only the Palestinians understood that, they would have attacked the Jews with flowers.
Shimon Peres says, “Iran is a decaying corpse of a country and the idea that they are any long-term threat to anybody, based on demographics and based on the rickety state of their economy, is a joke. So yes, it would be terrible if they ended up with an atomic bomb, but otherwise, Iran is not a long-term strategic threat to anybody.”
I think to get a good view on Iran you have to put yourself in the shoes of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is wholly dependent on Iran. Without Iran, Hezbollah is just a band of hotheads with a few thousand highly trained men. So, view Iran from Hezbollah’s point of view. What do you see? It’s a regime that has been around since 1979 in one way or the other. Is it consolidated? Is it functioning better and better and getting more and more support? It’s not. Is it getting more dependent on police repression or less? The answer is more. So, from the Hezbollah point of view, you realize that your days are counted because the regime is in a downward spiral.
There is a good measure of social control in Iran, and that is the price of genuine imported Scotch whiskey in Tehran, because it’s a) forbidden, and b) has to be smuggled in for practical purposes from Dubai, and the only way it can come from Dubai is with the cooperation of the Revolutionary Guard. The price of whiskey has been declining for years, and you go to a party in north Tehran now and you get lots of whiskey. And it’s only slightly more expensive than in Northwest Washington.
But on the other hand, the regime is doing something for which they will have my undying gratitude—that is, they have been manufacturing the one and only post-Islamic society. They created a situation in which Iranians in general, worldwide, not only in Iran, are disaffiliated. They are converting Muslim Iranians into post-Muslim Iranians.
What do you make of the Obama Administration’s increasingly close diplomatic alliance with Turkey? There seems to be this effort to build up the Turks as an alternative hegemon to Iran in the region, even as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is trying his best to create an Islamic one-party state.
Hillary Clinton and her staff are not fools. Therefore, they must know that the Turkish foreign minister is a fool. I know him personally. The man is an idiot. Hillary Clinton and her advisers are not idiots. No advantage would be served for the United States to recognize where Erdogon is really going. It’s much better to pretend that he’s a member of NATO and North Atlantic Alliance and all the rest of it.
One way to look at the place of Israel in this landscape is “Wow, you have a functioning neo-liberal state with a tech economy second to Silicon Valley amidst the rubble of all these failed Arab states. Imagine the Syrian army trying to attack anybody. Egypt’s army is incapable of doing anything despite $10 billion worth of American weapons, Iran is falling to pieces, Lebanon is still a mess, Jordan is a joke of a country with a Palestinian majority.” On the other hand, you could look at it and say, “Israel is a tiny country in a chaotic neighborhood where it will always get sucked into conflicts with its neighbors and will never have a moment of peace.”
Luttwak Q&A
Yes, everything you say is correct, but there is a third element you are omitting. The very innermost circle of Israeli security is actually within the 1967 borders. And there you have almost 1.5 million Arabs, some Christian, some Muslim. The current situation is helping consolidate their loyalty to the Israeli state. If you ask them, “Are you loyal to the Israeli state?” They will say, “Oh no, we hate them all.” Are they involved in terror plots? The answer is that out of the 1.5 million, the ones involved in terror plots or even plain criminality of any sort, they could all sleep in my house. Or if not, they could sleep in a motel.
But there is even a more fundamental issue within Israel, which is the functioning of the Israeli economy and its impact on Israeli society. What’s happened, as you know from these latest demonstrations, is that the Israeli economy has become so successful that it has generated big numbers of millionaires, which means that four-room apartments in Tel Aviv cost as much as they do in New York. Israel is becoming Aspen, Colo., where normal people have to travel 20 miles to go to sleep because they can’t live anywhere within Aspen proper.
Are strategic minds nurtured through upbringing and education, or is the ability to think strategically an inborn gift, like mathematics?
It’s a gift like mathematics. The paradoxical logic of strategy contradicts the logic of everyday life, it goes against all normal definitions of intelligence we have. It only makes sense if you understand the dialectic. If you want peace, prepare for war. If you actively want war, disarm yourself, and then you’ll get war. Virile and martial elites understand that kind of thinking instinctively.
Here’s an easily falsifiable statement, but there’s something in it that interests me and I want you to pick it apart. I would start with the moment when George W. Bush met Vladimir Putin and said, “I looked into his eyes and saw this was a man I could really trust.” So, my thesis is this: If you’re Vladimir Putin, and you rise to the top of this chaotic and brutal society after going through the KGB, you must be some kind of strategic genius with amazing survival skills, because the penalty for failure may be torture or death. This kind of Darwinian set-up exists in many countries around the world. What does it mean to be head of the security services in Egypt? It means that you had to betray your friends but only at the right time, and you had to survive many vicious predators who would have loved to kill you or torture you, or otherwise derail your career. By the time you become Vladimir Putin or Omar Suleiman, your ability to think ahead and analyze threats has been adequately tested.
By contrast, what does it take to become a U.S. Senator? You have to eat rubber chicken dinners, you have to impress some rich people who are generally pretty stupid about politics, and smile in TV commercials. The penalties for failure are hardly so dire. And so, American leadership generally sucks, and America is perennially in the position of being the sucker in the global poker game. That’s the thesis. So, tell me why it’s wrong.
Even if your analysis is totally correct, your conclusion is wrong. Think about what it means to work for a Putin, whose natural approach to any problem is deception. For example, he had an affair with this athlete, a gymnast, and he went through two phases. Phase one: He concealed it from his wife. Phase two: He launched a public campaign showing himself to be a macho man. He had photographs of him shooting a rifle, and as a Judo champion, and therefore had the news leaked that he was having an affair. Not only an affair with a young woman, but a gymnast, an athlete. Obviously such a person is much more wily and cunning and able to handle conflict than his American counterpart. But when such a person is the head of a department, the whole department is actually paralyzed and they are all reduced to serfs and valets. Therefore, what gets applied to a problem is only the wisdom of the aforementioned wily head of the department. All the other talent is wasted, all the other knowledge is wasted.
Now you have a choice: You can have a non-wily head of a department and the collective knowledge and wisdom of the whole department, or else you can have a wily head and zero functioning. And that is how the Russian government is currently working. Putin and Medvedev have very little control of the Russian bureaucracy. When you want to deal with them, and I dealt with them this morning, they act in very uncooperative, cagey, and deceptive ways because they are first of all trying to protect their security and stability and benefits from their boss. They have to deceive you because they are deceiving their boss before he even shows up to work. And they are all running little games. So, that’s the alternative. You can have a wily Putin and a stupid government. Or an intelligent government and an innocent head. There’s always is a trade-off. A Putin cannot be an inspiring leader.
One final question. When I heard the Bin Laden news and you look at the circumstances surrounding his place of residence, and the length of his stay there, it seems clear that he was sold to the U.S. by somebody inside the Pakistani security apparatus, no?
I don’t believe that at all.
You think that the CIA independently developed this information?
First of all, it was not the CIA because the CIA doesn’t run interrogations in Guantanamo.
You believe the story about the courier?
I believe it and I believe it categorically. Look, the Pakistanis had been sheltering Bin Laden. But in these matters, the only way to proceed is to develop thoughts that are based only on uncontroversial facts. Any analysis of the Bin Laden story tells you that there was active Pakistani complicity simply because people cannot go to Abbottabad and live in a compound without somebody asking questions. For one thing, Pakistan has this system where foreign citizens have to obtain the residence permits and renew them, and there are foreigners including Arabs living there, and they would be asked to show their papers. Pakistani complicity is certain. That’s point one. Point two: The guy uses couriers. Therefore, if you’re going to find him, you had to find the courier. The courier story is not the cover story.
The proof of this is that if they got the information from some Pakistani guy, if one of the protectors of Osama decided to sell out, they would have known what was in the compound, and if they had known what was in the compound, they would not have attacked it the way they did. The attack against the compound reflected the central fact they did not know what they would find inside. The only thing that they hoped to find was Osama Bin Laden, among other objects, furniture, walls, people. Had a Pakistani provided the information, they would have provided two pieces of information, not just one. One is that Osama Bin Laden is there and two, a platoon is not there.
You understand the thing that keeps bothering me.
Now you are entering an area that is highly technical, and I’m not at liberty to speak because I’m in this line of business myself so there are limits to what I can tell you. But tell me what bothers you?
What bothers me is that you have a secret that was obviously known by more than one person. Let’s say that only three people in the ISI knew that Bin Laden was there.
The people who knew that he was in Abbottabad were a minimum number of some 12 people, and the reason is that you had to keep telling the police not to enter, you had to communicate with the other parts of the Pakistani state. But I repeat, but if American information had come from inside Pakistan, and there was knowledge of what was in the compound, they would have not attacked the compound in this way.
If 12 people know a secret, then there are also many people surrounding those 12 people who might also have access to some part of that information.
So, in other words, there are fragments of that secret.
With that many people knowing a big secret over that long a period of time, something must have leaked.
I know the courier information would tell you that Osama Bin Laden is in that space and nothing else. And the military operation that was mounted reflects that fact. Whoever designed that military operation had the kind of information that is consistent with the courier and is not consistent with any other story.
If I am in the receipt of information about Bin Laden’s whereabouts from a source in the ISI who wanted to submarine his boss, or gain the support of America, or pay off his mistress, I might design an operation that would match my cover story about the courier, who definitely existed, but might not have led anyone back to Bin Laden’s house.
No, no, no. It’s a very technical thing. It has to do with how you attack a target when you know that there are maximum of two people who will shoot at you or three people who will shoot at you, neither of the three being trained gunmen, versus how you design an attack on a target when you think there might be 25 people shooting at you. That’s all. The official word is that there was a courier, and I’m inclined to believe it. Because when somebody tells you how something happened, operationally speaking, do not disbelieve it until you have evidence that tells you that it’s wrong. Then you can pursue some other theory. All the information I have is consistent with the courier story because the courier story would tell you that there’s the bad guy in the space but nothing else.
Why kill him?
They were under orders to kill him.
Wouldn’t Osama Bin Laden be a source of useful intelligence? Alternately, one good reason to kill him is that you have a deal with the Pakistanis—“we’re gonna get rid of this problem”—then you need to kill him, because otherwise he might start talking about who protected him for the past 10 years.
There was no deal with the Pakistanis. There’s no institutional integrity. Therefore you cannot make deals with the Pakistani system. They would betray each other. There was no deal.
They killed Bin Laden simply because of the inconvenience of a trial?
They killed him because of the fact that if we captured Bin Laden, every Jihadist in the world would have been duty-bound to kidnap any American citizen anywhere and exchange him for Bin Laden.
David Samuels is a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker.

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Is Hamas Forcing Gilad To Fast For Ramadan?

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on August 5, 2011

Being aware of the fact that Hamas is a criminal syndicate, we should assume that everything they say is a lie or propaganda, and so it is with this release from the criminal syndicate.

Hamas media: Shalit ‘fasting’ during holy month
Published Wednesday 03/08/2011 (updated) 04/08/2011 17:54
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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Hamas affiliated Ar-Risala website reported Wednesday that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has decided to fast during Ramadan.The report comes as talks have stalled between Hamas and Israel over the possible exchange of hundreds of prisoners for Shalit, who was captured in a 2006 raid.

The report seemed to be intended to increase pressure on the Israeli government, whose prime minister has faced criticism over his perceived failure to prioritize reaching a deal with Hamas.

“A popular proverb goes that if one lives in a community for more 40 days, he becomes one of them. This seems to have come true in the Gaza Strip,” the report in Ar-Risala said.

After years in Gaza, Shalit has become “embarrassed to ask for food during Ramadan despite the fact that his captors do not deny him that right,” the report, in Arabic, continued.

Shalit thinks the government “lost interest,” it said, and he “abandoned Jewish traditions to mimic Muslims after the good treatment he received from his captors, even while they are fasting.”

The Israeli government, added Ar-Risala, is too busy with the demonstrations and protests in Tel Aviv, and so Shalit could not hear recently on Israel’s Channel 1 TV station any news about him.

The report claims Shalit noticed that the protests against housing problems became big, and that caused him “depression and disappointment. He lost hope of any prisoner swap deal that can secure his freedom.”

He seems to be saying, “Shalit wants to topple the regime,” the report claimed.

Shalit was captured by Hamas and other Palestinian factions on June 25, 2006 in a cross-border raid by Palestinian fighters near the Kerem Shalom crossing east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

He has remained captive through two governments and a devastating war on Gaza. Efforts have been exerted by Egyptian, German and Western mediators to try and finalize a prisoner swap.

Israel decided recently to toughen imprisonment conditions of Palestinian inmates in an attempt to put pressure on Hamas to give up on some of the conditions they stipulated for a prisoner swap.

The Red Cross has criticized Hamas’ refusal to allow Shalit visitors and other rights typically afforded to prisoners of war. Hamas says agreeing to these requests would compromise the soldier’s location.

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Obama Administration Gets Tough On Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on May 12, 2011

There are a couple of articles that seemed important to include on IsraelAmerica today. The first is a Jerusalem Post report about the administration’s view about the Fatah-Hamas rerconcilliation agreement.
Next up is a piece on the report that the President is going to address the world’s Muslims in the near future, and ask them to reject radical Islam.
So far, the administration is looking good on Hamas.
It remains to be seen what the President can do to change the outlook of a people, I mean here, the Persians, and the Arabs,President Obama who have practiced a rather brutal and racist version of Islam for hundreds of years.
Prior to Islam the Arabs were described by a fourth century Roman historian thusly:
Fighting and war are their delights.
The man who dies in battle is considered the happiest man of all, one who dies old, and in bed, is considered shamed.”
President Obama is known by many Muslims as the man who triumphed over Bin Laden, who ordered his death.
Arabs respect strength, so perhaps an Obama who is respected in this way may actually get through to these people.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the United States will not deal with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas unless the Islamist group reforms, The Jerusalem Post reported. “We’ve made it very clear that we cannot support any government that consists [sic] of Hamas unless and until Hamas adopts the Quartet principles,”Clinton said. The Quartet conditions require Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and respect previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Clinton’s comments came in the wake of the unity deal signed between Hamas and Fatah on Wednesday.

Obama To Speak to Muslims About Rejecting Islamic Militancy


Published May 11, 2011.

WASHINGTON — President Obama reportedly is planning a new speech to the Muslim world that would call for a rejection of Islamic militancy.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the White House is planning for such a speech within the next two weeks, just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to roll out proposals for reviving peace talks with the Palestinians in a meeting with Obama and in a speech to the U.S. Congress.

The United States and Israel share concerns that the pro-democracy movements now roiling the Arab world could be overtaken in some cases by Islamist forces.

According to the Journal, Obama wants to exploit the recent U.S. killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden to deliver a message that the United States embraces democracy but rejects militancy.

“It’s an interesting coincidence of timing,” the newspaper quoted deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes as saying. “That he is killed at the same time that you have a model emerging in the region of change that is completely the opposite of bin Laden’s model.”

Obama delivered a speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in June 2009 proposing a new era of engagement.

Conservatives criticized the speech for not emphasizing democratization.

Read more:

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Salman Rushdie on why it’s time to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on May 2, 2011

Salmon Rushdie, truly, one of our greatest living writers, has been under a Fatwa, a sentence of death, by proponents of militant Islam for many years.

In the following article he makes a good case for questioning our rerlationship with Pakistan.

Are we really supposed to believe that Pakistan didn’t know Osama bin Laden was living there for five years? Salman Rushdie on why it’s time to declare the country a terrorist state.

Osama bin Laden died on Walpurgisnacht, the night of black sabbaths and bonfires. Not an inappropriate night for the Chief Witch to fall off his broomstick and perish in a fierce firefight. One of the most common status updates on Facebook after the news broke was “Ding, Dong, the witch is dead,” and that spirit of Munchkin celebration was apparent in the faces of the crowds chanting “U-S-A!” last night outside the White House and at ground zero and elsewhere. Almost a decade after the horror of 9/11, the long manhunt had found its quarry, and Americans will be feeling less helpless this morning, and pleased at the message that his death sends: “Attack us and we will hunt you down, and you will not escape.”

HP Main - Rushdie PakistanAnjum Naveed / AP Photo

Many of us didn’t believe in the image of bin Laden as a wandering Old Man of the Mountains, living on plants and insects in an inhospitable cave somewhere on the porous Pakistan-Afghan border. An extremely big man, 6-foot 4-inches tall in a country where the average male height is around 5-foot 8, wandering around unnoticed for ten years while half the satellites above the earth were looking for him? It didn’t make sense. Bin Laden was born filthy rich and died in a rich man’s house, which he had painstakingly built to the highest specifications. The U.S. administration confesses it was “shocked” by the elaborate nature of the compound.

We had heard—I certainly had, from more than one Pakistani journalist—that Mullah Omar was (is) being protected in a safe house run by the powerful and feared Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) somewhere in the vicinity of the city of Quetta in Baluchistan, and it seemed likely that bin Laden, too, would acquire a home of his own.

In the aftermath of the raid on Abbottabad, the old flim-flam (“Who, us? We knew nothing!”) just isn’t going to wash.

In the aftermath of the raid on Abbottabad, all the big questions need to be answered by Pakistan. The old flim-flam (“Who, us? We knew nothing!”) just isn’t going to wash, must not be allowed to wash by countries such as the United States that have persisted in treating Pakistan as an ally even though they have long known about the Pakistani double game—its support, for example, for the Haqqani network that has killed hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan.

This time the facts speak too loudly to be hushed up. Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, was found living at the end of a dirt road 800 yards from the Abbottabad military academy, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point or Sandhurst, in a military cantonment where soldiers are on every street corner, just about 80 miles from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. This extremely large house had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection. And in spite of this we are supposed to believe that Pakistan didn’t know he was there, and that the Pakistani intelligence, and/or military, and/or civilian authorities did nothing to facilitate his presence in Abbottabad, while he ran al Qaeda, with couriers coming and going, for five years?

Pakistan’s neighbor India, badly wounded by the November 26, 2008, terrorist attacks on Mumbai, is already demanding answers. As far as the anti-Indian jihadist groups are concerned—Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad—Pakistan’s support for such groups, its willingness to provide them with safe havens, its encouragement of such groups as a means of waging a proxy war in Kashmir and, of course, in Mumbai—is established beyond all argument. In recent years these groups have been reaching out to the so-called Pakistani Taliban to form new networks of violence, and it is worth noting that the first threats of retaliation for bin Laden’s death have been made by the Pakistani Taliban, not by any al Qaeda spokesman.

India, as always Pakistan’s unhealthy obsession, is the reason for the double game. Pakistan is alarmed by the rising Indian influence in Afghanistan, and fears that an Afghanistan cleansed of the Taliban would be an Indian client state, thus sandwiching Pakistan between two hostile countries. The paranoia of Pakistan about India’s supposed dark machinations should never be underestimated.

For a long time now America has been tolerating the Pakistani double game in the knowledge that it needs Pakistani support in its Afghan enterprise, and in the hope that Pakistan’s leaders will understand that they are miscalculating badly, that the jihadists want their jobs. Pakistan, with its nuclear weapons, is a far greater prize than poor Afghanistan, and the generals and spymasters who are playing al Qaeda’s game today may, if the worst were to happen, become the extremists’ victims tomorrow.

There is not very much evidence that the Pakistani power elite is likely to come to its senses any time soon. Osama bin Laden’s compound provides further proof of Pakistan’s dangerous folly.

As the world braces for the terrorists’ response to the death of their leader, it should also demand that Pakistan give satisfactory answers to the very tough questions it must now be asked. If it does not provide those answers, perhaps the time has come to declare it a terrorist state and expel it from the comity of nations.

Salman Rushdie is the author of eleven novels—GrimusMidnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and, recently, the Booker of all Bookers), ShameThe Satanic VersesHaroun and the Sea of StoriesThe Moor’s Last SighThe Ground Beneath Her FeetFuryShalimar the ClownThe Enchantress of Florence, and Luka and the Fire of Life—and one collection of short stories, East, West. He has also published three works of nonfiction—The Jaguar SmileImaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991, and Step Across This Line—and co-edited two anthologies,Mirrorwork and Best American Short Stories 2008. He is a former president of American PEN.

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