A Dozen Bad Ideas for the 21st Century

bad-ideas

Written in 2011, timeless wisdom from Mark Durie:

By Mark Durie, Feb. 10, 2011:

Here is a list of false beliefs and modes of thought which make it hard for people in the West to come to terms with the challenge of Islam today.  If you are deeply attached to any of these ideas or ways of thinking, you will have difficulty accepting the truth about Islam’s teachings and their impact.

  1. The belief that all religions are the same. They are not.  Different faiths make different claims about what is true, and about what is right and wrong and produce radically different societies.  The same is true for different political ideologies: consider the different trajectories of North and South Korea.  Atheists have helped entrench this belief, because to acknowledge material differences between religions would undermine the atheist (and radical secularist) narrative.
  2. The belief that religion is irrelevant as a cause of anything.  According to this view, religion can be exploited or hijacked as an excuse or an instrument (e.g. of oppression – such as an ‘opiate of the masses’), but not an underlying cause of anything.  Marxist ideology has made a significant contribution to establishing this belief. In accordance with this assumption, security analysts all over the Western world presuppose that religion cannot be the cause of terrorism: so they and the politicians they advise must say that terrorists have ‘hijacked’ religion.
  3. The belief that we all worship the same God. We do not. Thousands of different gods are worshipped by people on this earth.  These gods manifest different characteristics, and make different demands.  The worship of them forms very different kinds of people and communities.
  4. The belief that one can justify anything from any sacred text. This is not true.  It is a postmodern fallacy that all meaning is in the eye of the beholder.  Certain texts lends themselves to supporting particular beliefs and practices much more than others.
  5. The belief that the Christian Reformation was a progressive movement. This is not true.  In fact the Christian Reformers aimed to go back to the example and teaching of Christ and the apostles.  Throughout the  whole medieval period reformatioalways meant renewing the foundations by going back to one’s origins.   Understanding ‘reformation’ in this way, Al Qa’ida is a product of an Islamic reformation, i.e. it is an attempt to go back to the example and teaching of Muhammad.
  6. The belief that dispelling ignorance will increase positive regard for the other. This was the message of Harper Lee’s powerfull novel To Kill a Mockingbird(pub. 1960). Although it is true that racial hatred can feed on and exploit ignorance, accurately dispelling ignorance sometimes rightly increases the likelihood of rejecting the beliefs or practices of another. It is illogical to assume that those opposed to a belief are the ones who are most ignorant about it.  Ignorance can breed positive regard for what is wrong just as easily as it can breed prejudice against what is good.
  7. The belief that everyone is good and decent, and if you just make a sincere effort to get to know another person, you will always come to respect them.This is not universally true.  Holding this view is a luxury.  Those who have experienced life under evil governments or in dysfunctional societies are shocked at the naivety of this assumption.
  8. The belief that putting something in context will always produce a more innocuous interpretation.This is not true.  Attending properly to context can make a text even more offensive than it would otherwise have been.  Conversely, if you take something out of context you may regard it more positively than you ought to.  In reality, radical interpretations of the Qur’an, such as are used to support terrorism, almost always involve an appeal to a rich understanding of the context in which the Qur’an was revealed, including the life of Muhammad.  On the other hand, many have taken peaceful verses of the Qur’an out of context, in order to prove that Islam is a peaceful religion.
  9. The belief that extremism is the problem, and moderation the solution. Warnings against taking things to extremes are as old as Aristotle.  More recently the idea was promoted by Eric Hoffer, in The True Believer(pub. 1951) that mass movements are interchangeable, and an extremist is just as likely to become a communist or a fascist.  He claimed that it was the tendency to extremism itself which is the problem.  This idea has become very unhelpful and generates a lot of confusion. ‘Moderation’ or ‘laxity’ in belief or practice can be destructive and even dangerous, e.g. in medical surgery or when piloting a plane.  Ideas that are good and true deserve strong, committed support, and the best response to bad ideas is rarely lukewarm moderation.
  10. The belief that the West is always guilty. This irrational and unhelpful idea is taught in many schools today and has become embedded in the world views of many.  It is essentially a silencing strategy, sabotaging critical thinking.
  11. Two wrongs make a right reasoning.E.g. Someone says that jihad is a bad part of Islam, to which a defender of Islam says ‘What about the crusades?’  Someone says the Qur’an incites violence, to which someone else replies ‘But there are violent verses in the Bible.’  This kind of reasoning is a logical fallacy. A specific sub-type of this fallacy is tu quoque reasoning:

    Tu quoque (‘you too’) reasoning: you can’t challenge someone else’s beliefs or actions if you (or your group) have personally ever done anything wrong or have objectionable characteristics. E.g. A Catholic says jihad is bad, but someone counters that popes supported the Crusades. This is a sub-type of the ‘two wrongs make a right’ reasoning: it too is a logical fallacy.

  12. Belief in progress: everything will always get better in the end. This is a false, though seductive bit of wishful thinking.  Bad ideas have bad consequences.  Good societies can easily become bad ones if they exchange good ideas for bad ones.  Bad situations can last for a very long time, and keep getting progressively worse.  Many countries have deteriorated for extended periods during the past 100 years.  It is not true that ideologies or religions will inevitably improve or become more ‘moderate’ as time passes, as if by some magical process of temporal transformation.  But things are not always going to get better.

Iran ‘Deal-or-No-Deal’: Talks to Continue Through June

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Breitbart, by  JOEL B. POLLAK, March 31, 2015:

Negotiations toward a nuclear deal between Iran and the P+5 nations (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) will continue through June, according to reportsfrom Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday. The announcement was made to satisfy the self-imposed deadline of March 31 for a provisional agreement, with “technical” details to be agreed by July 1. However, major differences appear to have been redefined as “technical” to keep talks going.

The chief sticking point remains the question of what will happen to Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran had initially agreed to export the stockpile abroad, but reversed its position at the 11th hour. In addition, Iran wants UN sanctions lifted immediately, rather than at the end of several years. The parties have not yet agreed on a system of monitoring compliance, and the U.S. appears to have given up a demand for Iran to reveal possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its program.

The announcement of a new sort of interim agreement will suit the Obama administration’s political purposes, providing a ceremonious display of diplomatic progress for domestic consumption. The real winner, however, is Iran, which will have reason to feel proud of the concessions its negotiators have won, including an apparent agreement to allow it to maintain centrifuges at the fortified underground site at Fordow. Iran will also have three more months to build its nuclear capacity.

The lack of a more specific agreement, however, may provide American critics of the negotiations with an opportunity to press for new legislation in Congress–both for new sanctions in the event of failed talks, and for requiring any final deal to be ratified by the Senate. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the terms of the emerging deal as “even worse” than he had expected, and Tuesday’s deal may make the question of military force far more urgent than before.

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Desperate John Kerry looks for a nuclear deal with Iran on Tuesday (breitbart.com)

As an American, it is embarrassing to see our Secretary of State so desperate to get a nuclear deal with Iran that he is willing to concede anything. The deadline is today (Tuesday) at midnight Switzerland time. It is thought that Kerry does not want the negotiations to pass midnight, because then it would be called an “April Fool’s Nuclear Deal.”

Many people believe that Kerry’s lack of restraint is his desire to win a Nobel Peace Prize. That may in fact be his motive, but to be fair, there is another reason. It there is no agreement with Iran, then the status quo remains: the sanctions continue while Iran continues to develop a nuclear weapons. What is not clear to me is why this is better than having a deal where the sanctions come off, and Iran continues to develop a nuclear weapon anyway.

According to an analysis by Memri, Iran has not backed down in any way from its positions at the start of the talks. As I reported yesterday, Iran has reversed a previous agreement to ship their stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia. Now they intend to keep it, so that it can be refined and developed into a nuclear weapon.

Memri lists the following Iranian positions that remain unchanged:

  • Tehran rejects the removal of its enriched uranium from Iran.
  • Tehran rejects a gradual lifting of the sanctions.
  • Tehran rejects restriction of the number of its centrifuges.
  • Tehran rejects intrusive inspections and snap inspections.
  • Tehran rejects any halt to its research and development activity.
  • Tehran rejects any change to the nature of its heavy water reactor at Arak.
  • Tehran rejects any closure of its secret enrichment site at Fordow.
  • Tehran rejects all restrictions to its nuclear activity following the agreement’s expiration.
  • Tehran rejects the inclusion of its long-range missile program in the negotiations.
  • Tehran rejects reporting on its previous clandestine military nuclear activity.
  • Tehran rejects allowing inspections of military sites suspected of conducting nuclear activity.

So it looks like Iran is going to get a nuclear weapon either way.

This is a good time to remind readers that we have been predicting for years, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that Iran was going to get a nuclear weapon, because Iran’s public is demanding it for defense. They have already been a victim of Saddam Hussein’s WMDs, and the public believes that with Pakistan, Russia and Israel having nuclear weapons, they must have one, too.

Still, with President Obama’s and John Kerry’s foreign policy record of an unbroken string of catastrophes, it cannot do the United States any good to see a servile John Kerry begging for a deal, just to see him later beg for a reward from the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Iran’s Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei is demanding that all Western sanctions be removed completely immediately, or there will be no deal. In February, Khamenei made a statement affirming this, but also accused the West of duplicity:

A scenario of agreement on general principles, and shortly thereafter agreement on the details, is not recommended, because our experience with the opposite side’s conduct [in the negotiations shows] that a framework agreement will serve [them] as a tool for inventing a series of excuses in [the negotiations on] the details. If an agreement is to be reached, it must be a single-stage agreement, and it must include the general framework as well as the details. The agreement’s content must be clear, and not open to interpretation. The agreement’s sections must not be such that the opposing side, which is used to bargaining, will search for excuses on the various issues. The sanctions must be completely removed.

This paragraph may be alluding to a 2013 interim agreement between Iran and the west. The full text of that agreement was never published. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that under the agreement, Iran had no right to enrich uranium, while Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gloated that Iran had preserved its right to enrich uranium. The White House published a “summary,” but Iran completely rejected the White House summary as “not true.” Then, in January 2014, Iran disclosed that there was a secret side agreement to the nuclear agreement. The White House first confirmed this, saying that the side agreement would be made public, and then denied that there was a secret side agreement.

So Khamenei is demanding that any new agreement be published in full, that there be no side agreements, that there be no ambiguities, and that sanctions be removed completely, immediately.

So here are two questions: Is Khamenei so resolute that he will not compromise on any principle? Is Kerry so servile that he will compromise on every principle? Perhaps we will have an answer by April Fool’s Day. Memri and VOA and AEI Iran Tracker

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Also see:

McCaul: ISIS Linked to 29 Terror Plots, Attacks Against West Since Obama’s ‘JV Team’ Comments

jihadi-car-parade-videoshotBreitbart, by EDWIN MORA, March 24, 2015:

WASHINGTON, DC — The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has been linked to “29 terrorist plots or attacks” against the West nearly a year after President Obama called the jihadist group a “JV team,” revealed House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX).

As ISIS stormed Iraq in January 2014, President Obama dismissed the brutal jihadist organization as a junior varsity (“jayvee team”) terrorist group.

“A year after the president called ISIS the ‘JV team,’ the organization can draw on over 20,000 foreign fighters and has been linked to 29 terrorist plots or attacks targeting the West,” said Chairman McCaul in his opening remarks at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing today.  “And the day the president said the global war on terror was effectively over was the day al Baghdadi created ISIS.”

“ISIS now controls territory the size of Belgium, governs millions of people, draws on billions of dollars in revenue, and commands tens of thousands of foot soldiers,” he added. “Terrorist safe havens have spread across the Middle East and North Africa.”

The chairman went on to note that ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadly terrorist attack at a museum in Tunisia, which is located next to Libya where the jihadist group hasestablished a presence.

McCaul said, “The gunmen involved had received training in Libyan terror camps.”

Nearly 20 people were killed in the attack.

Furthermore, the Texas Republican pointed out that ISIS, a Sunni group, has also claimed to be behind the coordinated attack against two Shiite mosques in Yemen, which he said, “killed more than 150 people.”

“Yemen’s instability has led to the evacuation of our remaining forces and will further empower extremists,” he added. “This situation is alarming given that al Qaeda’s premier bomb-makers in [Yemen-based] AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] have been targeting the homeland and Western interests for years.”

“Over the past year, Islamist terrorists have struck Western cities, including Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Copenhagen, and Brussels. We have witnessed the reach of extremists here at home as well,” noted McCaul. “An Ohio-based ISIS sympathizer was arrested in January for plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol. Last week, an ISIS-aligned hacking group posted the names, photos, and addresses of 100 American service members, calling their ‘brothers residing in America’ to attack these individuals.”

Today’s House panel hearing was titled, “A Global Battleground: The Fight Against Islamist Extremism at Home and Abroad.” [statement pdf’s available at hearing link]

Also see:

Obama Administration Legitimizing Philadelphia Islamists

Islamist Watch:

by Hillel Zaremba  •  Jan 8, 2013

State Dept. Promotes Philly Supremacist Groups as Model For Muslim World

The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports on a State Department-sponsored visit to America by a Bulgarian Muslim delegation, to “learn about the environment of religious tolerance in the U.S. and how religious groups function in a democratic society with a separation of church and state.”

A laudable goal, perhaps. But maddeningly, American taxpayers paid for the Bulgarians to meet representatives from Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups like the terror-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and terror apologist Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), while groups upholding American values like the American Islamic Forum for Democracy or American Islamic Leadership Coalition were ignored.

Perhaps equally disturbing are some of the lesser known groups with whom the delegation met on the Philadelphia leg of the tour.

Al Aqsa Islamic Society (AAIS).

The AAIS’ self-described mission is to “maintain the Islamic Identity and to protect Muslim people, children and students from the adversities of the surrounding non-Islamic environments.” Apparently, no one at the aptly named Foggy Bottom sees a problem with arranging a meeting with a group possessing such a hostile view of the surrounding American culture.

The Obama Administration brought a delegation of Bulgarian Muslims to the Al Aqsa Islamic Society in Philadelphia (left), holding AAIS’ supremacist, intolerant version of Islam as a model for Muslims worldwide. At right, a taxpayer funded women-only class inside the AAIS.

 

The name of this mosque should have been State’s first clue as to the “Islamic Identity” which the AAIS fosters. In a typical Islamic supremacist gesture, the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was built by conquering Muslims on top of the site of the Jewish Temple. Many American Muslims use the name for their houses of worship to indicate Muslim supremacy, as well as Palestinian solidarity.

AAIS has been linked to anti-Israel protests, featuring slogans such as “No justice! No peace! No freedom! No peace!” — presumably not the face of “tolerance” State wanted to show its Bulgarian visitors. And it was at the AAIS that Mohamad Shnewer and the Duka brothers, sentenced to life in prison for planning an attack on Fort Dix, would come to pray, begging the question of what brand of Islam is being preached at this site.

The Foundation for Islamic Education (FIE).

FIE describes itself as a satellite campus of Al-Azhar University of Cairo, whose leaders and faculty have sanctioned suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, called Jews “descendants of apes and pigs,” defended the execution of Muslims who leave their faith and threatened Egyptian Christians (Copts) for questioning the Quran.

The Bulgarians met representatives from FIE to discuss the latter’s “Islamic … after-school and summer programs.” Did FIE officials tell the Bulgarians how before 9/11 they held summer “jihad camp” gatherings at their campus? Or mention that one invited speaker, Siraj Wahhaj, advocated replacing the Constitution with Shari’a? Did FIE bring up its hosting of imam Jamal Badawi, who issued a fatwa listing the conditions under which it is permitted to beat one’s wife; or of banned-from-Canada Riyadh ul Haq, who declared: “The only Muslims who are considered moderates, are those who….forgive me for polluting the masjid’s atmosphere by saying this, … openly advocate lesbianism, those who are publicly declared homosexuals”?

The Obama Administration should not be holding up American Islamist groups who espouse religious intolerance and supremacism as a model for Muslims worldwide.

A World Without America

flag distressCenter for Security Policy

By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly declared that “a world without America is not only desirable, it is achievable.”  While that sentiment won’t be embraced in President Obama’s inaugural address next week, all other things being equal, it seems likely to be the practical effect of his second term.

Of course, Iran’s regime seeks a world literally without America.  More to the point, Ahmadinejad and the mullahs in Tehran are working tirelessly to secure the means by which to accomplish that goal.  Specifically, they have or are developing the ability to engage in devastating electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks, biological warfare and other asymmetric terrorist strikes.

For his part, Barack Obama seems to have in mind bringing about a world without America in a geo-strategic sense.  As Mark Steyn notes in a characteristically brilliant essay in National Review Online, that would be “Obamacare’s other shoe.” It would amount to a “fundamental transformation” of America’s place in the world, evidently intended to be the President’s second-act counterpart to the socialist transformation of this country that dominated his first term.

That agenda is strongly evident in Mr. Obama’s choices for key national security cabinet positions: John Kerry at the State Department, Chuck Hagel at Defense and John Brennan at the CIA.  The three are, like the President, imbued with a post-American, post-sovereignty, post-constitutional, transnationalist outlook.  In his administration, it would appear that their mission would be, as the American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka puts it, to manage the United States’ decline.

Having addressed previously in this space the serious problems with the judgment, records and policy proclivities of Messrs. Hagel  and Kerry let’s consider those of John Brennan to further illustrate the syndrome.

Brennan is a textbook example of a U.S. official who has “gone native.”  He speaks Arabic and was formerly the top CIA officer in Saudi Arabia.  He has shown himself to be deeply sympathetic to Islamists — for example, excusing and dissembling about their commitment to jihad and the necessity of not offending them.

After President Obama himself, John Brennan is, arguably, the single most important enabler of the Islamic supremacists’ agenda in government today. In his role as Homeland Security Advisor to the President — a position that does not require Senate confirmation and that he was given as a consolation prize when it became clear that he might not be confirmable as CIA director back in 2009 — Brennan has helped legitimate, empower, fund, arm and embolden them abroad, and embraced and appeased them here at home.

Of particular concern is the fact that John Brennan has presided over: the policy of engaging the Muslim Brotherhood, which has consequently been portrayed by a politicized intelligence community as “largely secular” and “eschewing violence”; the shredding of training briefings and the proscribing of trainers that might upset Muslims by telling the truth about shariah and the jihad it commands; the penetration of U.S. agencies by Muslim Brotherhood-associated individuals as employees and/or senior advisors; and misrepresentations to Congress about the true, jihadist character of the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi last September 11th.

Of particular concern is the prospect that Team Obama’s second-term team will, if confirmed, be even more insistent than their predecessors on engaging Iran.  Make no mistake about it:  The practical effect will be to buy the regime in Tehran the last few months it evidently needs to achieve what it has sought for decades: the means to have the world not only bereft of America’s leadership and stabilizing force, but to neutralize and perhaps eliminate the United States as a 21st Century society.

Ordinarily, a president should be given wide latitude by the Senate to appoint those he wants to staff his administration.  This is no ordinary time, though, and this is no ordinary president or administration.  The circumstances are such that a Team Obama that is pursuing so dangerous a policy course must be challenged and impeded, not encouraged and abetted.

The Senate’s constitutional responsibility to confirm senior executive branch appointees is one of the few it hasn’t compromised, or allowed the president to expropriate.  It must exercise its authority to assure “quality control” with respect to his picks for top national security cabinet posts.

Indeed, the fact that President Obama seeks not one or two, but three individuals who share his determination to achieve the radical and dangerous national security transformation he seeks in his second term demands that Senators defy him.  After all, should the Senate fail to object to this trajectory by rigorously debating and defeating any — and preferably all — of these problematic choices, its members risk not only allowing, but becoming party to, the realization of a world without America.

Mali Islamists Hit in Lightning Strikes by French

Map showing Mali's location in Africa (Source: CIA)

Map showing Mali’s location in Africa (Source: CIA)

Determined to win and win in a short time, French fighter planes began lightning strikes on Islamist strongholds in northern Mali Friday. Since then, the strikes have intensified, as have the amount of ground troops – now at 550 – that France has brought in for support.The French specifically stepped in as radical Islamists, who had taken over northern Mali last April, began a successful expansion campaign into the central region of the country, threatening to reach Bamako, the capital.

Seven other countries have joined the effort, including the U.S., who is providing communications support, and Britain, who is sending aircrafts to help transport troops from neighboring countries.

Since taking over the northern part of the country (an area greater than the size of France), the Al Qaeda-linked groups have imposed the most extreme form of Sharia (Islamic) law on the territory, amputating arms for those accused of thievery, public whippings of women for wearing perfume or makeup, flogging men for smoking cigarettes, and stoning to death individuals accused of adultery. Alcohol, music and watching sports on television have also been forbidden. The Islamists began their campaign in the region by smashing historic tombs and shrines located in Timbuktu.

See RadicalIslam.org’s related report Mali Islamists Amputate Thief’s Hand. Threaten 60 More

Tens of thousands of Malians have fled the region, with those left behind having to deal with the horrors of everyday life under the Islamists.

“France’s goal is to lead a relentless struggle against terrorist groups,” the ministry said, “preventing any new offensive of these groups to the south of Mali,” said France’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Mali map (Source: CIA)

Mali map (Source: CIA)

The Islamists rapid expansion into central Mali prompted the French to take action to prevent Al Qaeda terrorists from establishing large terrorist bases from which to launch attacks in Europe and link to other Islamist groups in Somalia, Yemen and northern Africa.

France’s goal is also to provide support to Malian government forces, who are hoping to soon be joined by troops from other African nations to take back their country.

Read more a Radical Islam

The Weird Phenomenon of Ottoman Empire Nostalgia

The ethnic cleansing of Turkish Armenia was accomplished in a variety of ways including deportations and outright massacres. Here, Armenian deportees struggle to survive in makeshift tents erected in the Syrian desert to which they were deported in 1915.

The ethnic cleansing of Turkish Armenia was accomplished in a variety of ways including deportations and outright massacres. Here, Armenian deportees struggle to survive in makeshift tents erected in the Syrian desert to which they were deported in 1915.

By John Hinderaker at Powerline:

If you hate America and the West generally, but aren’t crazy enough to long for Nazism or Communism, what’s left? Remarkably, many leftists have recently been expressing affection for the Ottoman Empire. Seriously. If you think about it, the Ottomans fulfilled a liberal fantasy: authoritarian so you get to boss everyone around and always get your way, but usually without actually having to murder your enemies. Plus, with no shortage of sex. I ridiculed Tom Friedman’s yearning for the days of the Ottomans here, and included this throwaway line:

It turns out that “Iron Empires” means the Ottomans, who, as Friedman writes, “had a live-and-let-live mentality toward their subjects.” Unless, of course, they were Armenians.

At the Middle East Quarterly, Efraim Karsh undertakes a more systematic demolition of Ottoman nostalgia:

It is commonplace among Middle East scholars across the political spectrum to idealize the Ottoman colonial legacy as a shining example of tolerance. “The multi-ethnic Ottoman Turkish Empire,” wrote American journalist Robert Kaplan, “was more hospitable to minorities than the uni-ethnic democratic states that immediately succeeded it. … Violent discussions over what group got to control which territory emerged only when the empire came to an end, after World War I.”

Karsh also cites the Armenian genocide in response to the idealization of the Ottomans:

While there is no denying the argument’s widespread appeal, there is also no way around the fact that, in almost every particular, it is demonstratively wrong. The imperial notion, by its very definition, posits the domination of one ethnic, religious, or national group over another, and the Ottoman Empire was no exception. It tolerated the existence of vast non-Muslim subject populations in its midst, as did earlier Muslim (and non-Muslim) empires—provided they acknowledged their legal and institutional inferiority in the Islamic order of things. When these groups dared to question their subordinate status—let alone attempt to break the Ottoman yoke—they were brutally suppressed, and none more so than the Armenians during World War I. …

A far cry from the tolerant and tranquil domain it is often taken for, Turkey-in-Europe was the most violent part of the continent during the century or so between the Napoleonic upheavals and World War I as the Ottomans embarked on an orgy of bloodletting in response to the nationalist aspirations of their European subjects. The Greek war of independence of the 1820s, the Danubian nationalist uprisings of 1848, the Balkan explosion of the 1870s, and the Greco-Ottoman war of 1897—all were painful reminders of the cost of breaking free from an imperial master. And all pale in comparison with the treatment meted out to the foremost nationalist awakening in Turkey-in-Asia: the Armenian.

He recites the brute facts of the Turks’ suppression of the Armenians; read it all if you aren’t already familiar with the depressing story. In the meantime, here are some excerpts. See whether some aspects of the story seem especially topical:

The first step in this direction was taken in early 1915 when Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army were relegated to “labor battalions” and stripped of their weapons. Most of these fighters-turned-laborers would be marched out in droves to secluded places and shot in cold blood, often after being forced to dig their own graves. Those fortunate enough to escape summary execution were employed as laborers in the most inhumane conditions.

At the same time, the authorities initiated a ruthless campaign to disarm the entire Armenian population of personal weapons before embarking on a genocidal spree of mass deportations and massacres. By the autumn of 1915, Cilicia had been ethnically cleansed and the authorities turned their sights on the foremost Armenian settlement area in eastern Anatolia. First to be cleansed was the zone bordering Van, extending from the Black Sea to the Iranian frontier and immediately threatened by Russian advance; only there did outright massacres often substitute for otherwise slow deaths along the deportation routes or in the concentration camps of the Syrian desert. In other districts of Ottoman Armenia, depopulated between July and September, the Turks attempted to preserve a semblance of a deportation policy though most deportees were summarily executed after hitting the road. In the coastal towns of Trebizond, for example, Armenians were sent out to sea, ostensibly for deportation, only to be thrown overboard shortly afterward. Of the deportees from Erzerum, Erzindjan, and Baibourt, only a handful survived the initial stages of the journey. …

Whenever the deportees arrived at a village or town, they were exhibited like slaves in a public place, often before the government building itself. Female slave markets were established in the Muslim areas through which the Armenians were driven, and thousands of young Armenian women and girls were sold in this way. Even the clerics were quick to avail themselves of the bargains of the white slave market. …

Nor for that matter is there any symmetry between the military (and other) resources at the empire’s disposal and those available to its subjects, not least since states by definition control the means of collective violence. In the Armenian case, this inherent inequality was aggravated by the comprehensive disarming of the community; and while some “gangs” may have retained their weapons, the vast majority of Armenians surrendered them to the authorities despite their stark realization that the 1895-96 massacres had been preceded by very similar measures.

We can only speculate as to why so many liberals have grown fond of the Ottomans.

See also:

The Armenian Genocide PBS Documentary posted at Kitman TV