So I believe, compulsorily and satirically, in the existence of this absurd world; but as to the existence of a better world, or of hidden reason in this one, I am incredulous, or rather, I am critically sceptical; because it is not difficult to see the familiar motives that lead men to invent such myths. George Santayana

Varieties Define Jihad By William F. Buckley Jr.

Varieties Define Jihad

BY William F. Buckley
October 2, 2006
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/40713

The categorical opponents of the detainee bill should spend an unhappy hour reading the new book by Mary Habeck. She is a scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins, and her book,"Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror," is published by Yale University Press. The book undertakes to tell the reader things about the jihadist offensive that we should know about, properly concern ourselves with, and take into account when weighing legislative initiatives.

The scene in Washington, in a word, was as follows. The president, who is commander in chief of our armed forces and, as such, principal agent of the national security, took to Congress an impasse. It had been created by the Supreme Court. Exercising, quite properly, its authority to opine on deviations from past constitutional practice having to do with human rights, the court ruled that we could not legitimately proceed, as we have been doing in Guantanamo, to detain foreigners for interrogation and other purposes without reference to such constitutional narrative as is implicit under habeas corpus. That doctrine specifies that the American citizen is the master of his own movements — putting the burden of respecting that sovereignty on the government.

However, the protection of habeas corpus does not necessarily extend to those who are not U.S. citizens, which is what the current controversy is about. The Geneva Conventions, so often adduced in the congressional debate of the last few weeks, are designed to shed light on the standing of foreigners who find themselves behind bars set up by the U.S. military. The conventions cited are inadequate to current purposes, because those conventions sought to illuminate our authority over persons who had served or were serving in armies against which the United States contended in war.

Benedict's Opposite By Bret Stephens

The Wall Street Journal

GLOBAL VIEW
By BRET STEPHENS

Benedict's Opposite
September 26, 2006; Page A15

"Constantinople was conquered, and the second part of the [prophet Muhammad's] prophecy remains, that is, the conquest of Romiyya [Rome]. . . . Islam entered Europe twice and left it. . . . Perhaps the next conquest, Allah willing, will be by means of preaching and ideology."

-- Yusuf al-Qaradawi on al-Jazeera
Jan. 24, 1999

Who knows whether the Vatican ever sought an apology from Mr. Qaradawi for suggesting that Catholicism will one day be extinguished in its heartland and uprooted from its capital. But it's never too late to demand one, especially now that the good sheikh is in a lather over Pope Benedict's recent remarks about Islam.

In an era without a caliph, the Egyptian-born, 80-year-old Mr. Qaradawi is the nearest thing Sunni Islam has to a pope. His weekly al-Jazeera talk show, "Shariah and Life," reaches tens of millions of Arabic-speakers in the Middle East and Europe. His fatwas, or religious edicts on matters personal or political, are widely considered definitive among Sunnis. As the de facto spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Qaradawi is a theological traditionalist, although he is also associated with the "new wave" Islamism that seeks to attract a younger, more modern audience. Mr. Qaradawi is also occasionally at odds with the violent asceticism of Salafist clerics, which gives him, among Muslims and to some extent in the West, a reputation as a moderate.

The Reality of Religion: Putting things in context By Michael Ledeen

September 25, 2006, 1:31 a.m.

The Reality of Religion
Putting things in context.

By Michael Ledeen

It’s notable, I think, that religion — not so long ago pronounced irrelevant by most everyone in proper society — now dominates the global debate. Even a Communist like Hugo Chavez used religious terms to denounce W., perhaps because he is now in a tag team with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who speaks for a theocracy. But despite the fundamental importance of religion, most of our sages and scribblers are poorly equipped to deal with it, as you can see from the awkward coverage of the pope’s speech at Regensberg. It was, as you’d expect from a pope, a religious text, but the religious content was rarely reported, aside from Benedict’s remarks about Islam — themselves a part of a broader religious message aimed primarily at Europeans. A big part of his message was that Greek philosophical thought is central to Roman Catholicism, and that Catholicism evolved in Europe, in the constant interplay between faith and reason. It’s almost impossible to find that in the discussion.

Freedom and Justice in Islam by Bernard Lewis

Hillsdale College

Imprimis September 2006

“Freedom and Justice in Islam”
by Bernard Lewis

Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University

Bernard Lewis, born and raised in London, studied at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, where he earned a Ph.D. in the history of Islam. After military and other war service in World War II, he taught at the University of London until 1974 and at Princeton University until 1986. He is currently Princeton's Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies. For many years he was one of the very few European scholars permitted access to the archives of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul. In addition to his historical studies, he has published translations of classical Arabic, Turkish, Persian and Hebrew poetry. Professor Lewis has drawn on primary sources to produce more than two dozen books, including The Arabs in History, What Went Wrong? and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror.


The following is adapted from a lecture delivered on July 16, 2006, on board the Crystal Serenity, during a Hillsdale College cruise in the British Isles.

By common consent among historians, the modern history of the Middle East begins in the year 1798, when the French Revolution arrived in Egypt in the form of a small expeditionary force led by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte—who conquered and then ruled it for a while with appalling ease. General Bonaparte—he wasn't yet Emperor—proclaimed to the Egyptians that he had come to them on behalf of a French Republic built on the principles of liberty and equality. We know something about the reactions to this proclamation from the extensive literature of the Middle Eastern Arab world. The idea of equality posed no great problem. Equality is very basic in Islamic belief: All true believers are equal. Of course, that still leaves three “inferior” categories of people—slaves, unbelievers and women. But in general, the concept of equality was understood. Islam never developed anything like the caste system of India to the east or the privileged aristocracies of Christian Europe to the west. Equality was something they knew, respected, and in large measure practiced. But liberty was something else.

As used in Arabic at that time, liberty was not a political but a legal term: You were free if you were not a slave. The word liberty was not used as we use it in the Western world, as a metaphor for good government. So the idea of a republic founded on principles of freedom caused some puzzlement. Some years later an Egyptian sheikh—Sheikh Rifa'a Rafi' al-Tahtawi, who went to Paris as chaplain to the first group of Egyptian students sent to Europe—wrote a book about his adventures and explained his discovery of the meaning of freedom. He wrote that when the French talk about freedom they mean what Muslims mean when they talk about justice. By equating freedom with justice, he opened a whole new phase in the political and public discourse of the Arab world, and then, more broadly, the Islamic world.

Socrates or Muhammad? By Lee Harris

The Weekly Standard


Socrates or Muhammad?
Joseph Ratzinger on the destiny of reason.
by Lee Harris

10/02/2006, Volume 012, Issue 03

To the memory of Oriana Fallaci
On September 12, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an astonishing speech at the Uni versity of Regensburg. Entitled "Faith, Reason, and the University," it has been widely discussed, but far less widely understood. The New York Times, for example, headlined its article on the Regensburg address, "The Pope Assails Secularism, with a Note on Jihad." The word "secularism" does not appear in the speech, nor does the pope assail or attack modernity or the Enlightenment. He states quite clearly that he is attempting "a critique of modern reason from within," and he notes that this project "has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly."

Benedict, in short, is not issuing a contemporary Syllabus of Errors. Instead, he is asking those in the West who "share the responsi bility for the right use of reason" to return to the kind of self-critical examination of their own beliefs that was the hallmark of ancient Greek thought at its best. The spirit that animates Benedict's address is not the spirit of Pius IX; it is the spirit of Socrates. Benedict is inviting all of us to ask ourselves, Do we really know what we are talking about when we talk about faith, reason, God, and community?

The Pope's Divisions By Reuel Marc Gerecht

The Wall Street Journal

The Pope's Divisions
By REUEL MARC GERECHT

September 21, 2006; Page A16

Although many Muslims have apparently found Pope Benedict XVI's recent oration at the University of Regensburg deeply offensive, it is a welcome change from the pabulum that passes for "interfaith" dialogue. Since 9/11, his lecture is one of the few by a major Western figure to highlight the spiritual and cultural troubles that beset the Muslim world. Think of the awfulness that we've observed in the last years: the suicide terrorism in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, but especially the holy-warrior carnage in Iraq, where Sunni die-hard believers have tirelessly slaughtered Shiite women and children. Then think of the tepid, not always condemnatory, discussions these atrocities have provoked among devout, especially fundamentalist Muslims. We should have seen many more Westerners and Muslims posing painful questions about the well-being of Islamic culture and faith. With the exception of President Bush's remarks about "Islamofascism," which provoked dyspeptic reactions inside the U.S. government and out, the administration has generally avoided using powerful language connecting Islam to terrorism.

It’s 1938 All Over Again By Michael Novak

National Review Online

September 21, 2006, 6:28 a.m.

It’s 1938 All Over Again
A decisive battle.

By Michael Novak

The atmosphere these days is marked by the same mists that those who were in Paris and Berlin in 1938 can still recall. The air was heavy with ominous feelings that war was about to burst on Europe, like a violent autumn storm, with jagged lightning and clattering thunder.

The whole continent was in denial. There would be peace, there had to be peace. But there was not going to be peace. One could feel it in the air.

It feels like 1938 all over again.

Tune out the static and hear Pope's challenge to us all By Michael Novak

New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com

Tune out the static and hear Pope's challenge to us all
BY MICHAEL NOVAK

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Because he had to find a paying job at the age of 12, my father did not get to finish high school, but he was nobody's dummy. So if he were still alive and asked me to explain exactly what Pope Benedict said in that speech in Regensburg, Germany, last week, which everybody is kicking around, I would have had to put it honestly and clearly, awaiting his inevitable counterpunches.

People are missing the point, Pop, I would have said. The Pope just pulled off a triple play and they are still arguing about a single pitch early in the inning.

The U.S. vs. Iran By Michael Rubin

The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. vs. Iran
By MICHAEL RUBIN

September 20, 2006; Page A26

The Iranian government continues to enrich uranium despite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's generous package of incentives -- and in defiance of the U.N.'s Aug. 31 deadline. Still, European officials hold out hope for the success of diplomacy. On Sept. 15, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said, "We are really making progress. Never before have we had a level of engagement . . . as we have now." Diplomats will look for any hopeful sign from Iranian President's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's forthcoming U.N. speech. But can talk work? Successful diplomacy requires that both sides negotiate in good faith and honor commitments. That Tehran's track record undercuts confidence should not surprise. From its very inception, the Islamic Republic has eschewed diplomatic norms.

What They Omitted By Laurie Mylroie

The New York Sun

What They Omitted

BY LAURIE MYLROIE
September 19, 2006
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/39873

Recently the Senate Intelligence Committee published the second phase of its investigation into Iraq. The document has an outrageously lengthy name: "Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Postwar Findings About Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments, Together with Additional Views." It is a tendentious paper, reflecting Democratic posturing on the eve of the congressional elections. Four Republican senators on the committee complained in their dissent that it was written "with more partisan bias than we have witnessed in a long time in Washington." That is an apt characterization of the section dealing with Iraq and terrorism.

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