Filed under: Africa, Europe, History, Islam, Middle East | Tags: Arabia, Christendom, Muslim Conquest
plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
In the early years of the seventh century, when the Prophet Muhammad began his mission in Arabia, the whole of the Mediterranean world was still part of Christendom. On the European, Asian and African shores alike, almost all the inhabitants were Christians of various denomination. Of the other religions of the Greco-Roman world, only two, Judaism and Manichaeism, had survived and were professed by minorities in these lands. In the eastern Mediterranean, the East Roman Empire, known to scholarship as the Byzantine Empire, continued to flourish and with Constantinople as its capital ruled over Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and part of North Africa as well as Asia Minor and southeastern Europe. In the western Mediterranean, the Roman state had fallen, but the barbarian peoples, and the kingdoms they raised on the ruins of Rome, had adopted the Christian religion and tried with intermittent success to maintain at least the forms of the Roman state and the Christian church. Nor was the realm of Christendom limited to the Mediterranean lands. Beyond the eastern border of Byzantium, Mesopotamia, the metropolitan and western-most province of the Persian Empire, was by the early seventh century predominately Christian and thus part of the Christian though not the Roman world. Even in Arabia, beyond the imperial frontiers of both Rome and Persia. Christian and Jewish minorities lived among the pagan majority.
Within a few decades of the death of Muhammad in 632, his Arab followers had burst out of the Arabia Peninsula, attacked Byzantium and Persia, the two great empires that had divided the Middle East between them, and wrested vast territories from both. The Empire of Persia was conquered and absorbed in its entirety. From the Roman world the Arabs took Syria Palestine, Egypt, and the rest of North Africa which, in turn, became their springboard for the invasion of Africa which, in turn, became their springboard for the invasion of Spain and the Mediterranean islands, notably Sicily. Defeating both the Byzantine and the barbarian armies, they were able to incorporate these countries in the new Islamic Empire and to threaten Christendom from both ends. In the east, Arab armies from Syria and Iraq pressing against Anatolia, then a Greek and Christian land and the heartland of the Byzantine Empire, while other Arab and Berber armies in the west swept from conquered Spain across the Pyrenees and threatened to engulf all of Western Europe. For a while, Muslim armies occupied Sicily, parts of southern Italy, and seemed to menace even Rome itself.
The opening paragraphs from The Muslim Discovery of Europe by Bernard Lewis, New York, 1982 Highly recommended.
Filed under: Africa, Developing Nations, Economy, Education, Energy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Politics | Tags: Speeches and Audiences, The American President, Talking to Africa
I had to laugh at Abe Greenwald’s line: “The United States has been too eager to throw its weight around and impose it’s norms on other countries without giving sufficient thought to the resentment it might sow.” Which he attributes to Barack Obama’s worldview.
Obama went to Africa to make a speech. He spoke in the Mandela Hall in the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and he spoke at the Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall on the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus. He told Africans to stamp out corruption, get more young people in school. Africa’s population will double, he said, but it is urgent to get more young people trained. Africa’s growth will depend on unleashing economic growth, and ending the cancer of corruption. He tried to push education for girls, gay rights in Africa, fighting corruption and “clean energy” and — solar panels, not ‘dirty’ fossil fuels.
The young Africans, according to the BBC, said their feeling about America is ‘clean your own house first.’ They are shocked and horrified at what is going on in the black community in America — police brutality, all these killings, everything being swept under the rug, investigations don’t happen. They were horrified by the lack of freedom of speech and expression in the U.S. Many said they found Obama’s views about gay rights unpalatable. “When Obama declares gay rights is about human rights, most of us feel he’s not Christian.”
Mr. Obama may be laboring mightily to keep anyone from thinking that America is an “exceptional” country. He wants it to be just one of the “community of nations,” and not any more important than any other. Strange ambition. But the nations of the world haven’t lost interest, and everything American makes it onto the front pages of the world’s newspapers, and with the increasing spread of technology, they have only to log on. After all, we are the source of movies, celebrity gossip and strange behavior, fashion, what’s new, and just what’s happening in America. So they know quite a bit about what’s going on here. In spite of the compliments, Obama seemed to be there to throw his weight around as the American president, and impose some American norms without giving sufficient thought to the resentment it might sow.
Here are remarks from young Africans of East Africa in Addis Ababa
Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Developing Nations, Free Markets, Freedom, History | Tags: Cell Phones, Changing Africa, Leon Luow
President Obama spoke on Sunday in Kenya about Africa’s bleak history, referencing the racism his grandfather faced as a cook for the British during the colonial era, and the ethnic violence that erupted after a disputed election in 2007. He urged Africans to build stronger and more tolerant democracies. Graft, he said, is “not something that is just fixed by laws, or that any one person can fix. It requires a commitment by the entire nation—leaders and citizens—to change habits and change culture.
What does this have to do with rather primitive cell phones? It’s that modern cell phones are now common in Africa. You may see a Masai tribesman in the remotest part of Africa, herding goats in his red blanket, talking on a cell phone. Poverty is being eliminated, life expectancy is longer, and trade and investment are changing Africa. Leon Louw urges more “exploitation.” More people buying things from Africa, investing in Africa and employing people in Africa. Yet the assumption is that poverty is increasing, while the opposite is the case, and should be celebrated.
If you have not watched the 9 minute video below, you can see the important part about eliminating poverty and the proliferation of cell phones at about 9: 30, and the potential difference that BitCoin may make. Mr. Obama’s advisors did not prepare him for recognizing the advances that Africa has made.
Last time he made a speech in Africa, Obama told the people that they couldn’t all have cars and air-conditioners or the oceans would boil over.
Time and technology move on, and change the world.
Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Developing Nations, Economy, Education, Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Media Bias | Tags: Free Market Capitalism, Societal Transformation, Understanding What's Important
Leon Louw is an author, policy analyst, and executive director of the South Africa-based think tank: The Free Market Foundation. “Thank goodness people are ‘exploiting ” Africa by buying things from it, by investing in it, by employing people in it,” he said. “The worst thing that would happen is if people decide to stop exploiting Africa.”
The statement might sound provocative, but Louw is responding to a a pair of critiques he hears often: That economic development is akin to exploitation and that the gap between rich and poor is growing dangerously large. But Louw says that the focus on economic inequality is a distraction from a more important metric.
“The world is experiencing the most amazing accomplishment of humanity: The virtual elimination of poverty,” says Louw. “It’s strange that as that happens, we are talking about it as if there is more of it.”
Another illustration of “One of the Most Remarkable Achievements in Human History.”Some good news to be celebrated. The Decliners are sure that there is more poverty, more unfairness, more decline. About 9 minutes long. It is getting really hard to get a straight, true look at the state of the world. Those things which are hard and bad are ignored, misunderstood, and the dangers made light of. And the good things? We don’t even know they are happening. It would be helpful if there was way less talk about the supposed gap between the rich and the poor, and a lot more appreciation for free market enterprise that moves people out of poverty.
The Slovenian a Capella Jazz Choir with their 2010 hit “Africa”
Filed under: Afghanistan, Africa, Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Al Qaeda Network, Growing and Expanding, national security
Documents seized in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan directly contradict what we have been told by the Obama Administration. There was one story designed to influence the 2012 election with a view of bin Laden as dead, his network decimated and terror in the world receding due to the efforts of Barack Obama.
The nation was riveted when the early-morning mission of May 2, 2011 was revealed, sending a small team of military and intelligence professionals into the mysterious compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that held the al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The assignment was to capture or kill bin Laden and gather as much intelligence as possible about bin Laden and his terrorist network. Bin Laden was killed with a shot to the head, and the Sensitive Site Exploitation efficiently went to work:
It was quite a haul: 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives and a dozen cellphones. There were DVDs, audio and video tapes, data cards, reams of handwritten materials, newspapers and magazines. At a Pentagon briefing days after the raid, a senior military intelligence official described it as “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”
An interagency team led by the CIA did a hasty scrub on a small portion of the documents and produced more than 400 reports based on the information in the documents. They had the al Qaeda playbook. What happened next was stunning. Nothing. Analysis stopped, Documents were untouched.
In spring 2012, a year after the raid that killed bin Laden and six months before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration launched a concerted campaign to persuade the American people that the long war with al Qaeda was ending. In a speech commemorating the anniversary of the raid, John Brennan , Mr. Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and later his CIA director, predicted the imminent demise of al Qaeda. The next day, on May 1, 2012, Mr. Obama made a bold claim: “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.”
The White House provided 17 handpicked documents to the Combatting Terror Center at the West Point military academy, where a team of analysts reached the conclusion the Obama administration wanted. Bin Laden, they found, had been isolated and relatively powerless, a sad and lonely man sitting atop a crumbling terror network.
The trouble with that story was that it simply was not true. It was Obama’s preferred scenario, and the one he wanted to deal with, not the one that was a true threat that he might have to actually do something about. Do read the whole thing. It’s an excellent column by Steve Hayes and Tom Joscelyn on the status of al Qaeda. It is behind a subscription paywall at the Wall Street Journal or can be accessed at Google here.
One of the pillars of Obama’s campaign for reelection was that he had essentially decimated al Qaeda, the terror network was on the path to complete defeat. He described them as ‘decimated’ or ‘on the path to defeat’ something like 32 times. To date, the public has seen only two dozen of the 1.5 million documents captured in Abbottabad.
The fight over the documents continues, for the contents are directly relevant to today’s challenges from the Iran nuclear deal to the rise of al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the rise of Boko Haram, and the trustworthiness of senior Pakistani officials.
Here General Jack Keane, former vice chief of staff of the Army, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, that President Barack Obama’s “policies have failed” and allowed al Qaeda to “grow fourfold in the last five years.” A video is available at the link.
Keane said, “As you can see on the map, al Qaeda and its affiliates exceeds Iran and is beginning to dominate multiple countries. In fact, al-Qaeda has grown fourfold in the last five years. Third, the Islamic State of Iraq, ISIS, is an outgrowth from al-Qaeda in Iraq which was defeated in Iraq by 2009. After U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq in 2011, ISIS emerged as a terrorist organization in Iraq, moved into Syria in 2012.”
“Is it possible to look at that map in front of you and claim that the United States policy and strategy is working? Or that al-Qaeda is on the run? It is unmistakable that our policies have failed,” he added.
Daniel Greenfield writes of “Our Crucial Choice of the War on Terror.” He says “There are two models for fighting terrorism. We can see the terrorists as an external invading force that has to be destroyed or as an internal element in our society to be managed.”
Filed under: Africa, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, History, Iran, Islam, Israel, National Security, Progressivism, Russia, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: President Barack Obama, Secretary John Kerry, The Deal with Iran
Matthew Continetti has written an excellent column at the Free Beacon on why Bibi’s speech matters. “It exposes the Iran deal as indefensible—and Obama’s politics as bankrupt.”
The emerging nuclear deal with Iran is indefensible. The White House knows it. That is why President Obama does not want to subject an agreement to congressional approval, why critics of the deal are dismissed as warmongers, and why the president, his secretary of state, and his national security adviser have spent several weeks demonizing the prime minister of Israel for having the temerity to accept an invitation by the U.S. Congress to deliver a speech on a subject of existential import for his small country. These tactics distract public attention. They turn a subject of enormous significance to American foreign policy into a petty personal drama. They prevent us from discussing what America is about to give away.
And America is about to give away a lot. This week the AP reported on what an agreement with Iran might look like: sanctions relief in exchange for promises to slow down Iranian centrifuges for 10 years. At which point the Iranians could manufacture a bomb—assuming they hadn’t produced one in secret. Iran would get international legitimacy, assurance that military intervention was not an option, and no limitations on its ICBM programs, its support for international terrorism, its enrichment of plutonium, its widespread human rights violations, and its campaign to subvert or co-opt Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria. Then it can announce itself as the first Shiite nuclear power.
Do read the whole thing: Matthew Continetti zeroes in on the specific points on why the Obama administration is trying to do such an impossible deal, why Obama wants it, and why he’s deeply mistaken. The greatest danger is that the world perceives Obama as a weak president who cannot be depended on at any. Urgently needed weapons may or may not be delivered, rescue may or may not happen, decisions may or may not be made, or may endlessly be postponed.
Obama believes he was elected to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. He was not. He was elected to be the first black president. He is terrified of being a ‘war’ president, and wants to avoid confrontation at all costs. Which results in the Ukraine, Cuba, Chinese adventurism, ISIS and Libya, Syria, and the potential return of Afghanistan to Taliban control.