The Hijab Canard

The Hijab Canard

If there is one thing that jumps from the page of every so-called liberal newspaper in the US as regards the treatment of Islamic terrorism is the obvious anti-Muslim bias of their scribes. Their Western European cousins do not lag far behind. Under the guise of preaching tolerance, subtly they plant the seed of Islamophobia. Take, for instance, the myriad articles extolling the right of women in the Muslim world to use the hijab, coupled with the coverage verging on promotion of clownish affairs like “World Hijab Day” or girls wearing hijab in schools or the oxymoronic tales of Olympians playing beach volleyball in hijab.

Ironically, those who speak in favor of hijab in a misguided attempt to show support for the rights of Muslim women to the unfettered practice of their religion—a goal I would support—do, through ignorance, the opposite. First, because the hijab has very little to do with Islam and is more the consequence of cultural rather than religious influences. Second, because it inadvertently places Muslim women who have been trying to free themselves from the patriarchal mores of their societies at a disadvantage, and justifies obscenities like the one in the picture above as being somewhat based in “religious beliefs.” As we shall see, nothing could be further from the truth.

Hijab and the Quran

Contrary to the ravings of so-called fundamentalist clerics and politicians in the Islamic world, the Quran has few and rather scant references to the need to cover a woman with a hijab or its nastier cousins Abaya, Burka and Chador. In fact, there are two verses that are commonly cited. The first is:

sūrat l-nūr (The Light) 24:30

قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ يَغُضُّوْا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَ يَحْفَظُوْا فُرُوْجَهُمْ, ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُم.

“Say to the believing men that they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste). This is better for them.” Followed by:

قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَ يَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوْجَهُنَّ…

“Say to the believing women that they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste)…”

This rather sound advice, in particular considering the times, is referred to as “hijab of the eyes,” which leads many by custom to avert their eyes and look to the ground when talking to someone not of their immediate circle. No mention here of any covering of any kind for either male or female.

Christians who may find fault with this may well remember Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Followed by 5:29: “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” At least the Quran, as regards to ogling the opposite sex with lust does not call for self-mutilation.

The Surat of the light continues:

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.”[1]

Now, the “veil” a woman should draw over her bosom so as not to show “her ornaments” is also translated as “head cover” or “scarf.” In the original, it is called a khimar; “al-khimar is no more than a scarf, and it is known as such because the head is covered with it.”[2] In other words, this Surat only makes the rather sound recommendation that women should avoid trotting about exposing their ornaments (bosom, breasts); particularly if they want to avoid trouble with the fellows who are coming in from a long trip with no more company than each other and the camels.

The Second verse is:

sūrat l-aḥzāb (The Combined Forces) 33:59

Oh Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad) that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”[3]

Again, the original word for their “garment” is jalabib, meaning nothing more than a loose outer garment, of the type most commonly used at the time.[4] Again, it appears that the preoccupation of the Prophet was more with ensuring that the denizens of the semi-barbaric tribes he did so much to civilize show some modesty and circumspection, not unlike the efforts attributed to Jesus in the Christian Bible. Indeed, the requirement for Jewish Orthodox women to cover their heads, or that which required Catholic women to do the same while attending church before the Second Vatican Council (some still do), or for most women in Catholic religious orders to this day is no different and is based on the very same teachings, one suspects, and for the very same reasons.

One more word on hijab. In the first Surat, a reference is made to a “hijab of the eyes.” This has been interpreted by the exegetes of the Quran variously to mean a “veil” or “cover,” giving justification to all sorts of aberrations that go from the infamous Burka to having some Saudi women peek at the world through one eye, to garments reminiscent of the habits of Carmelite nuns. The purpose in those cases was to protect property by keeping it concealed from prying eyes. It has no base in the Quran but in a vast collection of edicts, laws and interpretations that vary from region to region. But in the Quran the meaning is quite different and refers to “separation” or “barrier”, not exclusive to men and women, but in more general terms denotes separation between man and woman, between man and man and between believers and non-believers. Indeed, in that sense, Jefferson’s “wall of separation” is, in effect, hijab. Hardly a veil over a girls face.

One thing we can say for sure: Whatever the meaning attributed to the verses we have just discussed, the appearance of a young woman in a bikini or tight fitting clothes and a hijab on supposed religious grounds is as anachronic and self-contradictory as to render it laughable. In other words, if a woman can forgo the loose clothes and replace them with tight fitting jeans…where’s the argument for the head cover? The glorification of this balderdash by latter day Rousseaus is both shameful and grotesquely out of place.

As Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa so eloquently put it in 2015: “As Americans, we believe in freedom of religion. But we need to clarify to those in universities, the media and discussion forums that in exploring the “hijab,’ they are not exploring Islam, but rather the ideology of political Islam as practiced by the mullahs, or clerics, of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State.

In the name of “interfaith,’ these well-intentioned Americans are getting duped by the agenda of Muslims who argue that a woman’s honor lies in her “chastity’ and unwittingly pushing a platform to put a hijab on every woman.

Please do this instead: Do not wear a headscarf in “solidarity’ with the ideology that most silences us, equating our bodies with “honor.’ Stand with us instead with moral courage against the ideology of Islamism that demands we cover our hair.”

 

[1] This is the Yusuf Ali translation. In others, the “shame of sex” is variously translated as “women’s nakedness” (Pickthall), “the private aspects of women” (Sahih International), “what is hidden of women” (Shakir), “their hidden ornaments” (Muhammad Sarwar), “the shame of sex” (Mohsin Khan), “women’s private parts” (Arberry). No wonder the Prophet did not want his text translated! The original is:

[2] Fakhru ’d-Din ar-Razi, at-Tafsiru ’l-Kabir, vol. 23; Beirut: Daru ’l-Kutubi ’l-‘Ilmiyya, 1990; p. 179-180.

[3] Again, translation of “not molested” varies with others using “not molested,” “not annoyed,” “not given trouble” and “not hurt.”

[4] at-Turayhi, Majma‘u ’l-Bahrayn, vol. 1, p.384. “a wide dress, wider than the scarf and shorter than a robe, that a woman puts upon her head and lets it down on her bosom…”

The Islamofophia Canard

The Islamophobia Canard

(excerpt from Gander: Incompetence, Terrorism and the Rise of Islamic National Socialism, Chapter 17)

On September 20th, 2001, President Bush in his address to Congress stated that Our war on terror begins with al-Qa’ida, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated;” and on July 12th, 2004, added “The appeal of justice and liberty, in the end, is greater than the appeal of hatred and tyranny in any form.” He was right, on both counts. Unfortunately, the war on terror was transmuted into the fallacy “bin Laden is dead and al-Qa’ida is on the run,” repeated ad nauseam during the 2012 election campaign, and the justice of his statement on the appeal of Justice and Liberty was diluted by those who, claiming to fight racism, cannot but act on the soft bigotry of their own beliefs. To them, modern day Fascists by any other name, tyranny is a natural form of government for the Arab countries, promoting Liberty in their lands is folly, and encouraging Justice a fool’s errand.

The transmutation is not by chance. In an effort to show their open mindedness after decades of ignorance, some policymakers embraced the wrong partners to show their support for Muslims they had never bothered to know in the first place. Lacking any knowledge, they embraced associations like CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), whose leaders have long had a comfortable relationship with Islamic terrorists. CAIR’s Executive Director, Nihad Awad, was shown to have participated in planning meetings with the Holy Land Foundation that resulted in more than 12 million dollars being sent to Hamas to finance terrorism,[1] as well as in meetings of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee in 1993.[2]  In 2014, the United Arab Emirates listed CAIR as a terrorist organization.[3] And yet, CAIR’s campaign to ban the use of the word jihadist in references to Islamo-Fascist terrorism finds sympathy in the halls of Congress and in intellectual circles, and CAIR members are appointed even to the White House to serve as advisors!—for instance, Zaki Barzinji, grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood point man in America, Jamal Barzinji, and a Brotherhood militant in his own right, was appointed liaison to the Muslim American community under the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, after serving as Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia.

It is ironic, perhaps, that with millions of law-abiding Muslims in the US, indeed, of Muslim Patriots who have freely given their blood in our armed forces advancing the cause of Liberty, it is among the purveyors of Islamic National Socialism that the Obama administration and some politicians have found their points of reference. It is tragic that, in so doing, they contribute to further alienate the very Muslim population they claim to embrace. As Arab American journalist Ray Hanania so eloquently put it on occasion of the election of Donald J. Trump to the Presidency of the United States: “The bottom line is that Trump’s election is a slap on the face of American media which feeds on anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism more than Donald Trump ever did.”[4] And so they do. Under the guise of righteous indignation for imaginary affronts, subtly they plant the seed of discord.

The same can be said of the empty rhetoric about open borders. As Kemal Atatürk remarked in his memoirs: “Poor Wilson, he did not understand that lines which are not defended by the bayonet, by force, by honor and dignity, cannot be defended by any other principle.”[5] In the strange world of social democratic political correctness in which we live, to speak of controlling our borders is indulging in the unforgivable sin of immigrant bashing. But Atatürk was right. Vigilance in our borders is a necessity today more than at any other time in our history, and all the empty talk of modern-day Chamberlains will not change that fact.

[1] Dallas Morning News, FBI: CAIR is a Front Group, and Holy Land Foundation tapped Hamas Clerics for Fundraisers, October 2008, Dallas News Online. Five officers of the Holy Land Foundation were eventually convicted and sentenced to up to 65 year in prison.

[2] Scott W. Johnson, Coming Clear about CAIR, The National Review, August 27th, 2007.

[3] WAM, Emirates News Agency, UAE Cabinet Approves List of Designated Terrorist Organizations, Groups, Dhabi, November 15th, 2014. For a complete list of these organizations, see Appendix IV, on page 275.

[4] Ali Younes, Mixed reaction to Trump from prominent Muslim Americans: How do Muslim Americans feel about Trumps presidential victory? Al-Jazeera, November 10th, 2016.

[5] Jean Deny, Souvenirs du Gâzi Moustafa Kemâl Pacha, Revue des Etudes Islamiques I, 1927, p. 174. (Originally published in Hakimiyeti Milliye, Ankara, and Milliyet, Istanbul, March 13th to April 12th, 1926.)

The Muslim Ban Canard

The Muslim Ban Canard

Finally, the Trump administration has come up with a replacement for the visa moratorium on citizens of failed and enemy states until we can figure out how to do this right. Taking a cue from the recent failed attempt, this one will not take effect immediately but on March 16th next.

Chuck Schumer and the ineffable Tony Perez were quick to lambast the new Executive Order terming it “unconstitutional” and an assault on immigrants. Perez went as far as to proclaim: “Trump’s obsession with religious discrimination is disgusting, un-American, and outright dangerous. This second Muslim ban is just as unconstitutional as the last one and it isn’t making us any safer.” It is to be noted that for years, the most dangerous place in Washington was deemed to be the space between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera. It appears that Perez is now giving him a run for his money and it is not unlikely that soon they may trample each other to death in a race to the lens, sparing the country further embarrassment.

But I digress. What neither Schumer nor Perez—nor anyone for that matter—can do is point to any part of the visa moratorium that in any way, shape or form refers to any religion. And the fact that the affected countries are home to a variety of faiths and even divergent and inimical sects of the one espoused by the majorities, seems to be an alien concept for these two brave men. But they go further, and insist on calling the measure a “Muslim Ban”.

In fact, less than 10% of the Muslim population of his world is affected by the moratorium. And with them, a number of Catholics, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, Jews, and others, made smaller by the decades of persecution suffered at the hands of successive tyrannies.[1]

The hundreds of millions of Muslims in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Algiers, Morocco, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Turkey, Guyana, Egypt, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Uzbekistan, China, Malaysia, Russia, Niger and the Philippines, not to mention the Muslim communities in just about every other country in the world, remain wholly unaffected. More, Muslim citizens of the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and a score of other countries are not even required to have a visa to visit the US under the Visa Waiver Program. Of course, Mr. Perez, senator Schumer and every other propagandist out there know there is no religious test, which seems to be no obstacle to their persistence in claiming what they know to be a patent falsehood.

But that is not the only lie.

The talking heads of the Democratic Party also claim that there is no evidence that there is any terrorist threat issuing from these countries, as echoed by the New York Times and others. This is a double fallacy. The first fallacy is that of a false premise: In the very same articles, citing the very same studies, they admit that while terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen pose a threat to the United States, militant groups in the other four countries have a more regional focus.” Well, there is 50% y’all. And to claim that no group poses a threat to the US in, say, Iran, is a little bit of a stretch and downright laughable. The second fallacy is a non-sequitur: the reason for the moratorium is not a verifiable flood of terrorists coming in from these particular countries or sporting a nationality originated there (although 30% of the suspects now being monitored by the FBI with suspect terrorist connections do belong to these countries), but rather the inability of our State Department personnel to carry out the vetting required for the issuance of visas. Whether a gazillion travelers from these countries or none at all turn out to be terrorists is essentially irrelevant. It is akin to leaving the kitchen door open while one goes on vacation. The breach represents a security concern independently of how many burglars go through.

Then, if Muslims are not the target, what could possibly be the reason for the moratorium? Simple, if one understands what a visa is. In order to issue a visa (a permit for travel, in this case to the US), our consular officers are tasked with ascertaining to a small degree of certainty, that the person who desires to travel to the US represents no danger, and has no intention of remaining in the US illegally. We all know no system is perfect and some will inevitably slip through the cracks but, nevertheless, that is the guiding principle. In order to do this, our diplomats must go through mountains of paper and in some cases conduct investigations and reviews. Does the prospective traveler have property, family and a job that would normally be an inducement to return? Is he or she a wanted criminal? Does he or she belong to an organization that advocates the overthrow of the US government? Is the passport the traveler is carrying issued by the Syrian government (not a guarantee, anyhow) or is it one of tens of thousands issued by Da’esh in stock stolen from the Syrian Government? Candidates must provide Police affidavits, property deeds, and letters of recommendation and undergo questioning by our consular officers. Any discrepancy may and often results in a denial of the sought visa. Even when such a visa is issued, a last filter will be the immigration officer at the point of entry. If anything seems amiss, the traveler will be referred to a supervisor and after further questioning he or she may still be denied access and shipped back to the point of origin. A visa is not an entitlement and a tourist is not an immigrant.

Now, perhaps Mr. Schumer will be kind enough the next time he shoots off his mouth top tell us how this process works in Iran or in Yemen, where there is no US embassy. How does it work when there are no government institution our consular officers can turn to for confirmation of statements, police reports, judicial records… The short answer is, not surprisingly, it works not. And that is precisely what the Trump administration hopes to remedy in the face of irrational, illogical and sometimes downright stupid opposition. The opportunity to revise procedures and devise alternatives that will permit a modicum of sanity in the visa process vis-à-vis countries that are either failed states or downright declared enemies of ours and from whom no collaboration can be expected.

The Visa moratorium is not just good policy. It is common sense. It is an indispensable tool to review our visa granting processes and devise a methodology that takes into account the unique problems presented by the chaotic situation in some countries and the outright enmity towards the united states in others, until a process can be implemented that will if not guarantee, at least reduce potential threats. It is not a travel ban, it is not a Muslim ban, and it is not a form of discrimination against immigrants. It is the right thing to do.[2]

If Mr. Schumer and Mr. Perez cannot see the national security implications of this or, worse, if they are willing to sacrifice it for the possibility of a fleeting political advantage, they may have to revise the definition of that epithet they are so wont to throw around: un-American, of course.

[1] Yemen: 56% Shafi’I Sunni Muslims; 44% Shi’a Muslims, small communities of Jews and Catholics.

Somalia: Sunni Muslims 97.5%; Christians 2.5%

Libya: Sunni Muslim 97%; Christians 3%

Sudan: Sunni Muslim 97%; Christian 1.5%; African animist 1.5%

Syria: Sunni Muslim 74%; Alawis, 11%, Ismaili and Shi’a 2%; Christian 10%; Druze 3%; Other 5%

Iran: Shi’a Muslim 89%; Sunni Muslim 9%; Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish and Baha’I 2%

[2] The US receives more foreign visitors a year, accepts more immigrants a year and grants citizenship to more individuals a year than any other country. In fact, it does so at a rate greater than all other countries in the world combined. To claim that the US government maintains an “anti-immigrant” stance is not only unjust, it is absurd.

The Gun Control Canard

The Gun Control Canard

Recently an old acquaintance who late in life discovered a passion for history told me that “I confess to being an advocate of gun control simply because no one has ever been able to explain to me exactly how the United States has benefited by having a second amendment.” This is a classic example of left wing arrogance. As if it was someone’s responsibility to explain to this fellow basic principles of freedom, rather than his responsibility to inform himself!

Had the budding historian bothered to do minimal research, he would have found that regarding this particular subject Thomas Jefferson was fond of quoting a now obscure Italian jurist and philosopher, Cesare Bonesana-Becaria, marquese del’Gualdrasco e Villareggio (1738-1794). More than 250 years ago, Cesare Becaria explained the folly of gun control laws in terms that ring awfully true today. Here’s what he had to say in “Dei delitti e delle pene” (Of Crime and Punishment), 1764:

“A fountain of errors and injustices are false utilitarian ideas that legislators tend to devise. A false utilitarian idea is one that places a particular problem ahead of the general problem. It is the idea that commands feelings, rather than excite them. It is the idea that says to Logic: Do my bidding. A false utilitarian idea is one which sacrifices a thousand real advantages to one imaginary inconvenience, or at least one of little consequence. It is the idea that denies man fire because it burns or water because it floods. It is the idea that pays no attention to the evils caused by what it destroys.

The laws that prohibit the possession of firearms are such laws. They do not disarm those who are inclined to and determined to commit a crime. How can those who have the gumption to violate the most sacred laws of humanity and of the legal codes, find restraint to respect minor and purely arbitrary legislation, the compliance of which must be so easy and uncomplicated as befits a law whose violation takes away personal liberty dearer to man, dearer to the enlightened legislator placing the innocent under all forms of harassment from the King?

These laws worsen the condition of the victim, while improving that of the aggressor. They do not reduce homicides, but encourage them, giving confidence to the aggressor that their victim will be unarmed. These are laws that are not there to prevent crime, but that express fear of crime. They are generally born out of an unmediated reaction to a particular event, and not from a measured meditation of the pros and cons that should precede any universal decree.

A false idea of utility is that that would give a multitude of sentient beings an apparent symmetry and order over the brutish inanimate matter that surrounds them, that transcends the immediate motives; that only constant and vigorous argument affects the multitudes to give form to the distant future. So weak and brief are its impressions that it is necessary a force of imagination, uncommon in most of humanity to keep up with the aggrandizing picture of the promised future.

Finally, a false idea of utility is that one which sacrifices the object to its name, separating the public good from the individual good. There is a difference between the social state and the natural state. Uncivilized man does no good but that which is sufficient to favor himself, whereas social man may from time to time be obliged by bad laws to do harm unto others without benefit even to himself. A despot may cast fear and dejection in the souls of his subjects, but it will return to him with greater force to torment his soul.”

 

And just in case, painfully aware, as they say in Italian that “traduttore, tradittore” (translator, traitor), here’s the original version for those who would like to see it without my intervention:

Original Quote:

“Una sorgente di errori e d’ingiustizie sono le false idee d’utilità che si formano i legislatori. Falsa idea d’utilità è quella che antepone gl’inconvenienti particolari all’inconveniente generale, quella che comanda ai sentimenti in vece di eccitargli, che dice alla logica: servi. Falsa idea di utilità è quella che sacrifica mille vantaggi reali per un inconveniente o immaginario o di poca conseguenza, che toglierebbe agli uomini il fuoco perché incendia e l’acqua perché annega, che non ripara ai mali che col distruggere. Le leggi che proibiscono di portar le armi sono leggi di tal natura; esse non disarmano che i non inclinati né determinati ai delitti, mentre coloro che hanno il coraggio di poter violare le leggi piú sacre della umanità e le piú importanti del codice, come rispetteranno le minori e le puramente arbitrarie, e delle quali tanto facili ed impuni debbon essere le contravenzioni, e l’esecuzione esatta delle quali toglie la libertà personale, carissima all’uomo, carissima all’illuminato legislatore, e sottopone gl’innocenti a tutte le vessazioni dovute ai rei? Queste peggiorano la condizione degli assaliti, migliorando quella degli assalitori, non iscemano gli omicidii, ma gli accrescono, perché è maggiore la confidenza nell’assalire i disarmati che gli armati. Queste si chiaman leggi non prevenitrici ma paurose dei delitti, che nascono dalla tumultuosa impressione di alcuni fatti particolari, non dalla ragionata meditazione degl’inconvenienti ed avantaggi di un decreto universale. Falsa idea d’utilità è quella che vorrebbe dare a una moltitudine di esseri sensibili la simmetria e l’ordine che soffre la materia bruta e inanimata, che trascura i motivi presenti, che soli con costanza e con forza agiscono sulla moltitudine, per dar forza ai lontani, de’ quali brevissima e debole è l’impressione, se una forza d’immaginazione, non ordinaria nella umanità, non supplisce coll’ingrandimento alla lontananza dell’oggetto. Finalmente è falsa idea d’utilità quella che, sacrificando la cosa al nome, divide il ben pubblico dal bene di tutt’i particolari. Vi è una differenza dallo stato di società allo stato di natura, che l’uomo selvaggio non fa danno altrui che quanto basta per far bene a sé stesso, ma l’uomo sociabile è qualche volta mosso dalle male leggi a offender altri senza far bene a sé. Il dispotico getta il timore e l’abbattimento nell’animo de’ suoi schiavi, ma ripercosso ritorna con maggior forza a tormentare il di lui animo. Cesare Beccaria, Dei delitti e delle pene, a cura di Renato Fabietti, ed. Mursia, Milano 1982, XL (originally published in 1764)

The Russia Canard

After their humiliating defeat in November, the Democratic Party has indulged in a self-destructive binge of invective that threatens to destroy whatever’s left of what passes for civility in America’s political discourse.

Simply put, as the architects of the Democrat’s decline into irrelevancy and ultimate electoral debacle seem unwilling to come to terms with their own inadequacies, they resort to innuendo—if not outright falsehoods—that ironically tell us more about their own failings than any real or imaginary transgression of their opponents.

The story we have all heard goes like this: Vladimir Putin, that evildoer Great Kahuna of Russia, personally intervened to have his minions “hack” the American elections to favor Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton and, in this context, any “contact” of any “campaign person” with any Russian—be it an intelligence officer, a diplomat or a tourist from Kamchatka—is ipso facto suspect and must cause the immediate sacking of the said campaign person, provided, of course, that we are talking about someone in the Trump campaign.

The sheer absurdity of the notion of hundreds of Republican Party members conspiring with Russia (or any other country) to subvert the electoral system in the US is enough to have an army of nurses, straight jackets on hand, at the ready to assist the proponents of this lunacy. And yet, party hacks and their scribes have been arguing precisely this for nearly three months now, with no signs of abating.

There is a second absurdity that seems to have sneaked pass the press without nary a reference: If there has ever been any group of individuals that might be legitimate subjects of suspicion in their dealings with Russia over the past eight years or so, it is the very Democrats that raise the specter now.

Obama, Georgia and the Reset

Relations with Russia have never really been good since Vladimir Putin broke into the scene with a fiercely nationalistic discourse that soon translated into a kind of nostalgic tour back to the land of the Gulag. Brought to power by his strong policy towards Chechnya—and after proving his mettle as a ruthless and unprincipled leader by his actions there—he has managed to remain on top of his country by going through, around and over the Russian Constitution with surprising ease.

After an initial honeymoon during the Clinton administration, however, relations cooled down during George W. Bush’s two terms, to the chagrin of many of Putin’s friends in the Democratic Party. Things got to a head in 2005. On may 10th of that year, as President Bush was getting ready to address a crowd in Tbilisi, someone threw a grenade wrapped in a handkerchief that landed less than 100 ft from President Bush and Georgia President Mikhail Shaakashvili, well within the kill zone. The grenade was a Soviet RGD-5 that according to the FBI was live, and that failed to explode only due to the malfunction of its activation device. Whoever was responsible was never found, but President Bush’s strong defense of Georgian democracy was to be challenged more seriously only three years later.

On August 14th, 2008, as told by former Georgian Defense Minister Dmitri Shashkin, a laconic message was received in Tbilisi from the White House:

“President’s press conference is in 45 min. Gates will lead the operation. 6th fleet is on its way, Herculeses in the air. GEO will be safe”.

The event, mentioned in passing in Secretary Gate’s memoirs (Duty) consisted in the airlifting of 1,800 Georgian troops from Iraq to Georgia as Russia was initiating an invasion. The presence of American transport planes at Tbilisi Airport prevented a planned Russian bombing raid. According to Minister Shashkin:

“Many do not know that our peacekeeping brigade returned from Iraq to Tbilisi on American military planes which under the circumstances of war was direct military support by the US…Many do not know that Russia could not bomb the Tbilisi airport because American Hercules planes were on the tarmac…Many do not know that the flagship of the US Fifth Fleet which entered the Black Sea monitored on its radars the airspace in the Tbilisi-Moscow-Volgograd triangle…many do not know that the August 14 Hercules flights from Jordan were accompanied by (American) fighters. Many do not know the statement of the commander of these fights that ‘any activity of Russian planes in the Georgian sky will be considered an attack on the United States of America,’ thus effectively closing the Georgian sky to Russian planes.”

At that time, then Senator Barak Obama, already a presidential candidate, inserted himself into the crisis by calling for UN condemnations and urging Georgia to “refrain from using force” in Abkhazia and Ossetia, where the Russians had already occupied nearly a third of Georgia’s territory.  So much for the interference of political candidates in foreign affairs, undermining US policy! Mr. Obama’s actions, besides the indignity of calling on the victim to show restrain, rendered the Bush administration’s condemnation of Russian aggression toothless, as if to say to Vladimir Putin, “don’t worry, in a couple of months we’ll have a different stance”.

But in Tbilisi they remember well who stood with them in the hour of their need. A huge portrait of America’s 43rd President greets visitors as they travel from the airport to downtown Tbilisi, at the beginning of President George W. Bush Street, and Georgians well remember the day an American President stood shoulder to shoulder with them to guarantee their freedom in the face of Russian aggression. “Building a free society is the work of generations,President Bush proclaimed at Freedom Square in 2005, a clear eyed vision that preannounced his stance in 2008.

Alas, the following November Barak Obama won the elections and on January 20th, 2009 was inaugurated, guaranteeing that Russian aggression in Georgia would remain unchallenged. Vladimir Putin learned the lesson, and annexed nearly a third of Georgian territory with no reaction from the Democratic administration. More importantly, he took the full measure of Barak Obama and found him pliable and accommodating to his designs. This would later have dire consequences for Ukraine, Syria and US interests in the Middle East.

After his inauguration, President Obama’s soft discourse on Russia took a decidedly vaudevillian bent when his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a sorry appearance with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, famously presenting him with a “reset button” a tragically comical affair in which her aids managed to misspell “reset” in Russian, turning it into “overcharged”.  Misspellings aside, the image of Mrs. Clinton joking with Mr. Lavrov in the aftermath of Russia’s rape of Georgia was anything but funny.

For four years, the Obama administration continued to pursue policies that encouraged and strengthened Mr. Putin and his associates, rescuing Russia from economic failure and allowing it to profit from high energy prices resulting from the US administration’s insane energy policies that drove up oil prices—Russia’s single most important source of revenues. From an economy in shambles and a GDP half that of Brazil’s, the toothless, emaciated bear rose and Russia slowly became a player again in the world, with disastrous results.

But the energy policies of the Obama administration were not an isolated event. The blunder in Syria had even worse consequences.

On January 26th, 2011, the Arab Spring reached the streets of Syrian cities as people protested decades of Ba’ath party dictatorship demanding democratic reforms. By April 21st, the Assad regime began a crackdown sending tanks into civilian areas. By October, as civilian casualties were approaching 3,000, parts of the army that refused to participate in the carnage and dissident groups formed the Syrian National Council, which included representatives from the Damascus Declaration Group, a pro-democracy network, Kurdish associations, and a host of other minor groups and tribal leaders, that threatened the end of the Ba’ath party dominance. This did not sit well in Moscow. Ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Russian fleet had limited access to the Mediterranean, depending largely on the Black Sea base of Novorossiyisk, particularly after Ukraine notified Russia in 2009 that the lease of naval bases in Crimea would not be extended after 2017. The Black Sea meant that Russian ships could only access the Mediterranean through the Bosphorus strait, a strategic nightmare. It so happens that one of the only two Russian bases outside the old Soviet Union was in Syria (the other in Vietnam), at the port of Tartus.

Vladimir Putin’s unflinching support for the Assad regime, even to the point of forming alliances with Iran, Hezbollah and the very Islamic radicals they once fought in Chechnya, can be traced to this one strategic asset. The loss of Crimean bases to a NATO-leaning Ukraine and of Tartus to revolution in Syria would have left the Russian fleet uselessly locked in the Black Sea. The old KGB operative did not need to think much to know that the possibility of losing both was unacceptable. Fortunately for him, he could count on his friends in Washington to avoid the unwanted scenario.

Campaign Promises

In 2012, elections were again at full swing in the United States.   On March 26th, during a nuclear summit in Seoul, South Korea, in an unguarded moment with an open microphone, President Obama was heard saying to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, as he placed his hand on the knee of Putin’s protégé:

“This is my last election…After my election I have more flexibility,” to which the Russian replied “I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

 What exactly was Mr. Medvedev to transmit to Mr. Putin is known but to three men, but we may be forgiven if we think that the events that transpired soon after were not unconnected.

And on October 22nd, during a Presidential debate, President Obama infamously lambasted Republican candidate Mitt Romney:

“When you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said ‘Russia,’ not Al Qaeda, you said ‘Russia.’ The nineteen eighties are now calling to ask for their foreign-policy back, because the cold war has been over for twenty years.”

In vain Mr. Romney correctly pointed out that “Russia, I indicated is a geopolitical foe and in the same paragraph I said Iran is the greatest national security threat we face.” Mr. Obama’s insistence that considering Russia a geopolitical foe was the fodder of ridicule can be considered an astounding display of ignorance or a conscious effort to mislead the American public. Only Mr. Obama knows the answer to this question.

The Red Line

Be the motives of Mr. Obama’s commentaries what they were, it is a fact that soon after his reelection things began to turn rosier for Mr. Putin. Just as the previous campaign events were taking place, Mr. Obama made his infamous “red line” remark on Syria. If the Assad regime were to use chemical weapons on its population again—it had, of course, already used them, and continued to do so—there would be consequences. Almost comically, on December 3rd of that year, his reelection in the bag, Mr. Obama re-issued his stern warning to Bashar Assad in a speech at the National Defense University:

“If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable” Words. Just words.

Assad continued to use chemical weapons against civilian populations and, while some members of the administration openly proposed arming rebels starting in 2013, nothing was done. That is, until September 2013, barely a year after President Obama’s assurances to President Medvedev, when the new Secretary of State John Kerry reached an agreement with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov…to have Russia assist in verifying Syrian disarmament!

In effect, this opened the door for Russia to legitimately enter the fray in Syria with results that could have been foreseen. Rather than pressure the Assad regime to give up its chemical weapons and march into the sunset, Russia signed agreements with Syria making its naval base at Tartus permanent (and another, air force base for good measure), and proceeded to bomb cities controlled by the rebels in ways the world had not seen since WWII. In a foul up reminiscent of the non-intervention club’s betrayal of Spain, within a short time there were no pro-democracy forces left worth mentioning and the country was essentially divided between the Assad Regime and its allies—Russia, Iran and the terrorist organization Hezbollah on one hand—and an alphabet soup of terrorist organizations on the other—mostly al-Qa’ida (apparently they were not on the run), and its offspring Da’esh , al-Nusrah, etc. The civilian casualties mounted to hundreds of thousands, with millions displaced provoking a crisis that now extends well beyond Syrian borders and threatens to further destabilize neighboring countries and even some European nations.

With bases in Syria secured, Russia moved on to the next target.

Almost immediately upon entering the war in Syria on the Assad regime’s side, Russia invaded Crimea and by March 18th, 2014, had officially “annexed” it to the Russian Federation, ensuring a return of Sebastopol and the naval base there, at the expense of Europe-leaning Ukraine. The Obama administration did absolutely nothing. This in turn led to further encroachment in East Ukraine. Even after Vladimir Putin freely admitted that Russian soldiers were in Ukraine, the US did nothing.

And thus we arrive at 2016. For a number of years now, Putin’s Russia has been committing all kinds of micro and macro aggressions on its neighbors, the Middle East and the world at large. Criminal organizations linked to the regime have penetrated security, energy and financial systems in scores of countries and, yes, in the US. Perhaps a point that is missed in all of this is the utter incompetence of those in whose charge lays our cyber security. China hacked the files of the OPM retrieving millions of personal files of just about everyone who underwent a security clearance in the US, and nothing was done. North Korea regularly steals information from private and public enterprises, and all we could hear from the Obama administration was crickets. But when John Podesta showed an unbelievable degree of incompetence in the handling of security of his own emails, or when the DNC proved incapable of maintaining a firewall, let alone running the country, suddenly we have a crisis that allows Democratic Party operatives to raise all kinds of fallacies and innuendo with no other purpose than to distract the rest of us from their shortcomings.

Of the Abundance of the Heart the Mouth Speaketh

If there are friends of Russia in the US government, all we need is look in the general direction of those raising the issue. Be it naiveté, incompetence or design, the Democrats have made Vladimir Putin what he is today by providing assistance every step of the way while denying the obvious.

The Trump administration does have a problem in its hands. But it is not any kind of collusion of any of its members with the newly arisen “evil empire.” It is a coordinated effort by a disloyal opposition to muddle the waters, hide their failings and create additional problems for the newcomers. Republicans must not play into the hands of desperate and ideologically bankrupt Democrats trying to divert attention from the mess they got us in.

The world is an infinitely more dangerous place now than it was in 2009, and rather than being distracted by conspiracy mirages thrown about by pathological liars, the administration must concentrate on rebuilding our military and intelligence capabilities and retake the position of leadership that the Obama administration joyously relinquished. The life, liberty and happiness of millions around the world depend on it.