French president Emmanuel Macron has startled observers with a number of policies that might seem to contradict his previously held beliefs.
Despite being pro-EU, he blocked membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia. Once clear-eyed on the Russian threat, Macron now argues for dialogue with Moscow and calls Islamic terror NATO’s number-one enemy. He even made made a point of attacking political Islam.
Some hear dog whistles to the far right, assume bad faith and call Macron an Islamophobe. That is unfair to the most liberal president France has had since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Read more
Trump Gave a Surprisingly Intelligent Speech to Muslim Leaders
This could have gone a lot worse. The speech Donald Trump gave on Islam and terror in Riyadh on Sunday was surprisingly intelligent.
According to his prepared remarks, the president rejected the clash-of-civilizations paradigm some of his fanatical underlings, like Steve Bannon, have promoted.
“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations,” Trump told an assembly of Muslim leaders.
This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.
That is quite right — and a reversal from Trump’s previous rhetoric. Read more
Trump’s Ban: Alternative Facts Create Real-Life Policy
Donald Trump has always had a difficult relationship with the truth. His sheer volume of daily falsehoods overwhelms an unprepared news media — and buries unsavory stories which the Republican would prefer to keep hidden.
Trump even manages to construct entire narratives via a steady diet of alternative facts delivered to his supporters.
This weekend, we saw something new: For the first time, those falsehoods came together to generate, enact and justify policy. Read more
Muslim Registry Would Require Investigation of Thought Crimes
As the Trump transition rolls along, the infamous “Muslim ban” has returned to the forefront.
It all started on December 7, 2015, when then-candidate Donald Trump spoke to supporters after the San Bernardino mass shooting. He advocated a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This proposal is still on his website.
It has been willfully forgotten or explained away since, but the fact remains: Trump’s first instinct was to call for a Muslim ban of indeterminate length.
It doesn’t stop there. Even in July, Trump said his plan had undergone an “expansion” and would bar individuals from places “compromised by terrorism.” This includes NATO allies like France and Germany. They “totally” meet this definition, Trump said, because they “allowed people to come into their territory.” Read more
The Bloody End of 2016’s Ramadan
Certainly, the end of this year’s Ramadan will go down as one of the century’s bloodiest. First Istanbul; then Dhaka, rounded off by Baghdad, Qatif, Medina and Jeddah. It’s not wholly clear just how much the Islamic State controlled or directed these attacks or merely inspired them, but owing to their scale, scope and timing they are worth examining in the wider context of the geopolitical view of Sunni supremacist terrorism.
Thus we must embark upon the road of understanding, of causation and explanation, to pinpoint sources and posit solutions. We needn’t empathize with the madness, only know that it has its own form of rationality it is playing by. Read more
The Arab Spring In Review
Five years later, the dismal record of the Arab Spring is all too apparent. Syria burns, Egypt’s new pharaoh goes from strength to strength while the Gulf monarchs, having launched war in Yemen, have rarely seemed so lethal. Democracy, it is clear, did not sweep in with the revolutions of the 2011-12.
But that’s no reason to dismiss the spring entirely. All such wide-scale events have resonance. For better or worse, the Arab world is certainly different and in some slim ways even improved since 2011.
Here now is the geopolitical review of the Arab Spring. Read more
Why a Western “War of Ideas” with Islam is Futile
In the wake of recent Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, well-meaning liberals have revived calls for a “war of ideas,” arguing that the “ideology” of the terrorists must be defeated as much as the terrorists themselves.
American president Barack Obama maintains that “countering violent extremism” involves more than a military effort. “Ideologies are not defeated with guns but better ideas and more attracting and more compelling vision,” he said last year.
British prime minister David Cameron has similarly argued, “What we are fighting in Islamist extremism is an ideology.” Not only those advocating violence must be challenged, he believes, but everyone who promotes “parts of the extremist narrative.”
Politicians in other countries and thought leaders across the Western world have argued much the same.
Their attempts could be futile if Middle East expert Adam Garfinkle is right. Read more