Pull the Plug on US Commission on International Religious Freedom?

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During the battle over John Bolton’s US Senate confirmation to serve as US Ambassador to the United Nations which resulted in “no vote” and thus his early resignation from a recess-appointed position, I received a lot of sensitive information from incumbent and former staff members of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which at best, has a checkered reputation as a defender of global religious rights and seems frequently to be more focused on rolling back Islam. The material dealt with the treatment of employed Muslims and alleged discrimination.
Both because the material was incomplete and because those giving me the information were fearful of the repercussions for current employees and put constraints on the use of the material that would have made it more hearsay than definitive, I didn’t use it.
But I’ve been skeptical of the Commission since.
Mother Jones‘ Nick Baumann and David Corn have more in an important piece profiling the views of some of the Commission Members and their hostility to the so-called Ground Zero Mosque.
They write:

President Barack Obama has declared that a group of moderate Muslims have the right to build a community center in lower Manhattan, two blocks from the site once occupied by the World Trade Center towers. Yet representatives of a wholly US government-funded outfit have joined the vociferous opposition to the Park51 or Cordoba House project that critics have dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” A leader of this group–which receives $4.3 million a year from the government–has even proclaimed that the community center could be a front for Islamic terrorism. That’s not all: the same agency, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCRIF), has been the subject of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint for allegedly discriminating against Muslim employees.
The commission was created by Congress in 1998 to monitor religious freedom around the world and scold countries that aren’t meeting religious freedom obligations outlined by international human rights treaties. Its sole source of funding is the US government; it is empowered to make recommendations to the president about policy decisions related to issues of religious freedom. Recently, the commission has decried Vietnam for its systemic violation of religious freedom and slammed China for its repression of Uighur Muslims. But leading conservative members of the commission have supported the opposition to the Cordoba House, essentially joining those who want to deny New York Muslims the freedom to build their religious and cultural center at this particular site.
In a recent piece for National Review Online, Nina Shea, one of USCIRF’s nine commissioners (who are selected by the president and congressional leaders), wrote that instead of “a cultural center for all New Yorkers,” the “mosque” project could be “a potential tool for Islamists”–suggesting it would be a hotbed of jihadism that, among other things, spreads the literature and ideas of Islamic extremism. She compared the leaders of the Cordoba House project to convicted terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman (the “blind Sheikh”) and accused Fort Hood and Christmas Day bombing coordinator Anwar al-Awlaki. (Shea’s piece, as of Monday, was no longer showing up on the NRO site.)

When National Review reconsiders, well, it’s clear lines were perceived to be crossed.
The term “McCarthyism” has been overused, but this mosque controversy seems to me to be contributing to a new variant of McCarthyism in which those defending the rights of religious freedom, moderation and tolerance in the US — rights embedded in the founding documents of the country — are labeled as appeasers or as flacks of Islamic interests, or weak, or anti-Semites; the list of labels is extensive.
Islam is going to be here for a long time — and it’s important for Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and secularists like me to figure out a way to embrace Muslims and their faith just as other faiths are embraced in this society.
But on the subject of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, it has not done its job in a long time.
Either Congress needs to review its roster of Commissioners and, ironically, purge the religiously intolerant.
Or it is time for both houses of Congress to zero this account.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

54 comments on “Pull the Plug on US Commission on International Religious Freedom?

  1. Kathleen Grassso Andersen says:

    JohnH…didn’t you get the memo? Zionism is okay, but Islamism is not. Now who’s being anti-semitic?
    This morning on Morning Joe, he pointed out that there were no violent Muslim sects until the ’40′s…I wonder what happened then to change that? Just a co-incidence that Palestine was wiped off the map to make room for Isreal in the ’40′s…couldn’t possbily be related, right, Nadine?

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  2. JohnH says:

    Agreed, and it’s important to note that Islam can easily become an expression of or at least confused with a nationalist movement, stemming entirely from local aspirations and grievances.
    There is a close correlation between “violent Muslims” and freedom fighters resisting foreign occupation, whether by the US, Israel, Russia, China, or a remote central government in Jakarta.
    The Israeli Firsters here only point out the “violent Muslim” part, without ever acknowledging that most Muslim societies are not violent. And when they are violent, there can be no acknowledgment that Palestinian resistance is a response to occupation and nationalist aspirations. To do so would give nationalist movements legitimacy, humanizing their opponents and destroying the “global Islamo-fascist” canard.

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  3. David Billington says:

    JohnH,
    If you take a longer view, you will note that Aceh resisted the Dutch longer
    than any other part of the archipelago and rebelled in the 1950s against
    Indonesia on behalf of an Acehnese Islamic state. The recent insurgency
    began in the 1970s over oil and later grievances as you mention, but it
    revived a sentiment for independence that goes back centuries.
    In my last post, my point was that, as in Pakistan, Islam in Indonesia is
    mostly but not entirely moderate. The religious difference corresponds to
    an important degree with regional differences in both countries.

    Reply

  4. JohnH says:

    The Aceh situation is illustrative of local grievances, apart from religion, being at the root of problems. Initially Achens had local grievances, such as the distribution of oil revenues, that first led to an independence movement. Then, as the movement gained steam, the government took repressive measures, increasing grievances and exacerbating the revolt.
    To attribute this simply to religion reveals a profound misunderstanding of the situation.
    But neocons and Israeli Firsters want people to misunderstand the situation, because it suits their agenda of demonizing all Muslims, so that the IDF’s picking off Palestinians, like fish in a barrel, can be justified.

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  5. David Billington says:

    Nadine – It is true that Deobandis have a presence in Pakistan
    (mainly in the Pashtun belt) but a stricter Islam is also prevalent
    in the Aceh province of Indonesia. Saudi funds have gone to
    religious schools in both places and to schools in the rest of
    Pakistan and Indonesia.
    There has been some troubling backlash in Indonesia but I have
    not seen evidence that Saudi funding has had the impact that
    you say it has had. Aceh has been quiet since the tsunami and
    as far as I know in the rest of the country a more moderate
    Islam prevails. In Pakistan, there is a clear link between radical
    teaching in some madrasas and students who go on to commit
    violence. But the number of students enrolled in madrasas
    overall in that country is still very small, about one percent
    according to the report, “Religious School Enrollment in
    Pakistan”.
    Here is the link:
    http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~tzajonc/madrassas_cer.pdf
    This isn’t to argue that funding for mosques and madrasas that
    teach extreme and violent ideas isn’t happening or that we
    shouldn’t be concerned. The best way to counter this influence
    is to help people obtain the modern education that an
    overwhelming majority of them want.

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  6. JohnH says:

    Does this mean that Nadine has finally jettisoned the argument that all Muslims are a homogeneous mass of Islamo-fascist robots? How can Israel participate in GWOT if the problems in countries each have unique and distinct roots? And what if the roots of Palestinian resistance are not Islamo-fascism, but due to local grievances, such asIsraeli theft of Palestinian land and water?
    Nadine, you’re treading on quicksand. Better go back to the argument that Muslims are all Islamo-fascist clones of each other!

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  7. nadine says:

    “I would be cautious about assuming that Saudi funding of
    schools translates into radicalization. A Harvard-Kennedy
    School study of Pakistan five years ago found that this was not
    true of madrasas in Pakistan.” (David)
    Pakistan doesn’t make for a clear case study, since it has its own native Deobandi sources of Islamist radicalism. Quite unlike syncretic Indonesian Islam. The Saudis may have find the Pakistani madrassahs more congenial from the start.

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  8. JohnH says:

    Don’t confuse Nadine with the facts–”A Harvard-Kennedy School study of Pakistan five years ago found that [Saudi funding of religious schools did not lead to radicalization] of madrasas in Pakistan.”
    “But, but, but,” Nadine says, “Muslims are all ideological clones of each other!”

    Reply

  9. David Billington says:

    “This used to be true, David, but after 30 years of the Saudis
    aggressively using their petrodollars to proselytize Wahhabism
    across the ummah, it is much less true today. A large slice of the
    young generation of Muslims in Indonesia, like everywhere else
    in the Muslim world, has learned their Koran and Hadiths in a
    Saudi-funded mosque or madrassah, from a Saudi-taught imam
    or mullah.” (Nadine)
    There has been some new hostility; pressure from conservatives
    led to cancellation of a pan-Asian gay meeting in Surabaya this
    spring that did not disrupt a meeting in Yogakarta four years
    earlier. But I haven’t see anyone attribute the closure to the
    pesantren (madrasas). Nor have I seen evidence that the
    younger generation in Indonesia has been widely radicalized; if
    you have, I would be interested to know your source.
    I would be cautious about assuming that Saudi funding of
    schools translates into radicalization. A Harvard-Kennedy
    School study of Pakistan five years ago found that this was not
    true of madrasas in Pakistan. Most Indonesians adhere to a faith
    not unlike the Barelvi Islam to which most Pakistanis belong.
    Parents in Indonesia send children to pesantren because they
    can’t afford the cost of modern education. We could do more to
    help Indonesians (and Pakistanis) gain access to modern
    education if we made it a priority. The Internet would allow
    greater assistance at a nominal cost. I can’t understand why we
    don’t do more.

    Reply

  10. David Billington says:

    “Any idea about how the average Indonesian Muslim or member of the Islamic
    clergy would feel about gay marraige or women Imams?” (Wigwag)
    Since gay marriage and women clergy are still controversial in the Christian West,
    and very recent, I’m not sure that I would hold Indonesia to that standard yet.
    Interesting about Vali Nasr. My larger point is that we need to de-emphasize the
    most intractable identity differences in our own efforts to build positive ties. I
    wonder if Dr. Nasr agrees with this.

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  11. Cee says:

    False Flag attacks
    False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one’s own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy’s strategy of tension.
    And former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski testified to the Senate that the war on terror is “a mythical historical narrative.”
    http://www.wanttoknow.info/falseflag

    Reply

  12. Cee says:

    Some of the terrorists we keep hearing about. Who benefits?
    Yawn.
    CNN Washington Bureau
    Tuesday, July 27, 2004 Posted: 1:21 AM EDT (0521 GMT)
    WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. has evidence that some suicide bombers in Iraq may have been forced against their will to carry out attack missions.
    A military official with the U.S. Central Command tells CNN that in one case after an attack, troops found a body with a foot tied with a rope inside a vehicle.
    The official says there also is evidence of some individuals having their entire family held by extremists who then force them into suicide car bomb attacks.
    Palestinians arrest al-Qaeda ‘poseurs’
    December 8 2002
    Palestinian security forces have arrested a group of Palestinians for collaborating with Israel and posing as operatives of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network, a senior official said yesterday.
    The arrests come two days after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon charged al-Qaeda militants were operating in Gaza and in Lebanon.
    “The Palestinian Authority arrested a group of collaborators who confessed they were working for Israel, posing as al-Qaeda operatives in the Palestinian territories,” said the official, on condition of anonymity.
    He said the alleged collaborators sought to “discredit the Palestinian people, justify every Israeli crime and provide reasons to carry out a new (military) aggression in the Gaza Strip.”
    The official did not say how many suspects had been arrested, nor where or when they were nabbed.
    Earlier, international cooperation minister Nabil Shaath announced he would hold a press conference here on the alleged presence of al-Qaeda operatives in the Gaza Strip.
    Sharon’s announcement marked the first time Israel officially claimed that al-Qaeda, held responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, was operating in the Palestinian territories.
    It was considered a surprise because the Gaza Strip is virtually sealed off by Israeli troops.
    The hardline Israeli leader also charged other members of the terror group were cooperating with Lebanon’s Shi’ite militia Hizbollah.
    The Palestinians slammed the allegation as “totally absurd” and accused Sharon of trying to piggyback on the US-led “war against terrorism” to strengthen his military operations against militants in the territories.
    Both the Lebanese government and Hizbollah made similar statements.
    AFP

    Reply

  13. JohnH says:

    Once again Nadine’s arguments collide with the facts. Arab countries are some of the least violent in the world. They have some of the lowest murder rates in the world. Even the highest murder rates reported among Arab countries was in Yemen, and it was was still below that of the United States.
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita
    Lebanon’s rate was about half of the US’.
    Nadine is trying to make the argument that the IDF is justified is shooting Arabs for sport and that the US should continue to be Israel’s partner in killing Muslims.
    Sorry, Nadine, you cannot justify anything based on the phony assertion that Muslims are a violent people. They aren’t–except when their country gets occupied by foreigners.

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Fifth, I think it’s more appropriate to count ALL deaths caused by the US military because if the US had not invaded Iraq, unprovoked, like the worst Nazi crime (which according to the Nuremberg Trials is aggressive war), these people would not be fighting”
    We’ve been in Iraq TWICE in the last twenty years. To claim that Al Qaeda has killed more civilians is absurd, and the lying bigot Nadine KNOWS it.
    And do to our use of DU, the death toll will rise exponentially, over generations.

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  15. MarkL says:

    What IBC does is laudable; however, you should keep in mind a couple of things.
    First, IBC only counts documented deaths, which means it is only the very lowest baseline for civilian casualties. The actual total could be much higher.
    Second, because IBC is not using a sampling method, I would be suspicious of any statistics calculated from their data.
    Third, the question of which casualties are civilian is open to debate, to say the least.
    Fourth, I would think that military experts could estimate the casualties from the astronomical amount of ordinance dropped on cities in Iraq; I would like to know what that number is.
    Fifth, I think it’s more appropriate to count ALL deaths caused by the US military because if the US had not invaded Iraq, unprovoked, like the worst Nazi crime (which according to the Nuremberg Trials is aggressive war), these people would not be fighting.

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  16. nadine says:

    Once again JohnH, you demonstrate that you can’t even read. Did you notice that we were talking about Iraq with its nearly 100,000 dead (according to the Iraq Body Count)? Did you notice that Islamist terrorists killed 100,000 in the Algerian civil war? Did you notice the death count in Afghanistan, Pakistan? No of course not, because you don’t care about these people. They were killed by their fellow Muslims so for you, they don’t exist.
    So tell me, who really demonstrates the attitude that Muslims are subhuman? The person who is outraged by the mass slaughter of innocent Arab civilians, or the person who doesn’t even care enough to notice? (That would be you.)
    The equation is simplicity itself: if somebody only cares about killing he can assign to the US or Israel, and is perfectly indifferent to other killing, even of the same victims, then that person only cares about the US or Israel. About hating them. He wants to be confirmed in his existing prejudices.

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  17. JohnH says:

    No wonder Jewish Supremacists oppose a “mosque” in Manhattan–they also oppose building mosques in Nablus and Ramallah! This from BBC.
    Wow!!! Nadine’s exaggerations are in hyperdrive tonight! Terror attacks claiming hundreds of thousands of lives, apparently all in little Israel!
    In fact, over 6000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis since 1999, while fewer than 1000 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. Interesting that the Israeli kill rate is lower than the 10:1 target rate apparently used in Lebanon and Gaza.
    http://www.btselem.org/english/statistics/casualties.asp
    But, according to Nadine, it’s obviously the Palestinians who are the terrorists, even though it was their land that was stolen. Go figure!

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  18. nadine says:

    So JD, one Jewish crime anywhere anytime (if it even happened, since the Irgun has always denied the massacre, saying they battled Iraqi troops in Deir Yassin) outweighs 10s of thousands of suicide bombings, car bombs, massacres, and other terror attacks which have claimed literally hundreds of thousands of innocent lives over the the last 20 years, over 95% of them fellow Muslims?
    Like the old saying goes, a liberal is a man too open-minded to take his own side in an argument.

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  19. JohnH says:

    Exactly, “Nadine would aver that there was no loss of human life.” Only sub-human life…

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  20. Cee says:

    Al-Quaeda my ass.
    The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a BBC documentary film series, written and produced by Adam Curtis. Its three one-hour parts consist mostly of a montage of archive footage with Curtis’s narration. The series was first broadcast in the United Kingdom in late 2004 and has subsequently been broadcast in multiple countries and shown in several film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
    The films compare the rise of the Neo-Conservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and claiming similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries

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  21. MarkL says:

    Yes,JDl, but Nadine would aver that there was no loss of human life.

    Reply

  22. jdledell says:

    “I remember in 2006, Michael Yon reported on an entire village in Iraq that had been wiped out by al Qaeda — they slaughtered every living thing.”
    Nadine – Kind of like Begin at Dier Yassin!!!!!!

    Reply

  23. nadine says:

    Let me lay out some facts for you, you moronic POS.
    Here is analysis of the causes and numbers of civilian deaths in Iraq from 2003 to 2008.
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0807240
    Notice that the methods of the insurgency & Al Qaeda — kidnapping and execution, IEDs, car bombs, and suicide bombs — killed 60% of the total — and that’s if you give 100% credit of the deaths by aerial attack or gunshot wounds to the Coalition forces, which is absurd. Any rational analyst with even the slightest familiarity with the Iraq War will look at these figures and conclude that the insurgency killed 75% of the civilians, at least. Which is what the insurgents themselves said they were doing: Zarqawi’s strategy was to kill enough Sunni and Shia civilians to spark a civil war. Osama bin Laden even tried to warn him against killing too many Iraqi civilians, to no avail.

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  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Somehow the Western wailers over dead civilians could not care less (literally) about al Qaeda’s victims, who far outnumber America’s collateral casualties”
    Good lord, she has absolutely no qualms about exposing herself as a lying bigoted propagandist. It is astounding that ANYONE would make such a claim, even Nadine. There is a point where chronic dishonesty becomes symptomatic of derangement.

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  25. JohnH says:

    Nadine continues in her fanatical and fantastical attempts to paint Muslims as an undifferentiated mob of ideological robots, a fundamentally racist position.
    As I’ve repeated over and over again, Nadine’s position reflects the interests of the Israeli government, which wants to paint Muslims as sub-human to assuage any guilt about brutalizing and dispossessing Palestinians. And they want portray their Occupation of Palestine as nothing more than a single front against an enemy it shares with the US.
    But on the other hand, Nadine adamantly condemns the notion that extremely organized groups of Jews work in concert to affect American foreign policy on behalf of a foreign government. (Jews couldn’t possibly be that organized!) Any suggestion that AIPAC wields considerable influence is met with dismissal, disbelief, charges of conspiratorial thinking, or anti-Semitism.
    In Nadine’s world, Islam is so well organized that it has transformed a billion people into ideological copies of each other. But isn’t is amazing–such a super-human organizing machine with ME oil money hasn’t managed to get control the US Congress?
    On the other hand, Israel is so poor and weak that its existence is threatened by unarmed peace activists. But somehow Israel manages to get gobs of foreign aid, monies that are desperately needed here a home, in Congressmen’s own districts.
    What a weird world view!

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  26. nadine says:

    “Although generally more conservative, Islam does vary in practice, with gay
    people tolerated in Indonesia, for example.” (David Billington)
    This used to be true, David, but after 30 years of the Saudis aggressively using their petrodollars to proselytize Wahhabism across the ummah, it is much less true today. A large slice of the young generation of Muslims in Indonesia, like everywhere else in the Muslim world, has learned their Koran and Hadiths in a Saudi-funded mosque or madrassah, from a Saudi-taught imam or mullah.

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  27. nadine says:

    Oh, yes, Imam Rauf has learned to bond with Western progressives by criticizing America in just the same terms they do.
    In case you didn’t notice, he shifted the goalposts for al Qaeda by only counting “innocent non-Muslim blood” — meaning only the attacks in New York should count. (Rauf has openly questioned whether al Qaeda is responsible for the attacks in Madrid and London).
    Of course, the vast majority of al Qaeda dead are innocent Muslim civilians, blown up in marketplaces from Amman to Lahore, or brutally tortured to death in intimidation or reprisal killings.
    Somehow the Western wailers over dead civilians could not care less (literally) about al Qaeda’s victims, who far outnumber America’s collateral casualties. They steadily refuse to even notice that they exist. Their standard is that it is a war crime for America to kill civilians by mistake while pursuing terrorists; but for al Qaeda to commit mass killing of civilians on purpose, as part of a terror campaign, is not an outrage at all; they seem to consider it a triviality by their non-reaction.
    I remember in 2006, Michael Yon reported on an entire village in Iraq that had been wiped out by al Qaeda — they slaughtered every living thing. He went there, he reported and he provided pictures of the dead. The major papers refused to even report a paragraph about it.
    Really, you should stop pretending this has anything to do with human rights. If it did, you would care about the dead no matter who killed them.

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  28. WigWag says:

    “Although generally more conservative, Islam does vary in practice, with gay people tolerated in Indonesia, for example. While Russia has had dreadful relations with the Muslims of Chechnya and Dagestan, the largest Muslim group in Russia, the Tatars, have had peaceful relations with Russia and could even be seen as a bridge between Islam and the West.” (David Billington)
    I am sure that tolerance of homosexuality varies across the Muslim world as it does across the non-Muslim world. You suggest gay people are “tolerated” in Indonesia; that’s great. Any idea about how the average Indonesian Muslim or member of the Islamic clergy would feel about gay marraige or women Imams? By the way, unless I
    am mistaken, what distinguishes the Tartars from many of their Islamic brethren is that they are relatively secular; they have more in common with Kurdish Muslims and Muslims from Albania and Kosovo than the more devout Muslims to be found in Chechnya and elsewhere.
    As to your larger point, I think you may be right. Vali Nasr, in his book, “Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It will Mean for Our World,” makes a similar point to you. He believes that over time, Muslim entrepreneurs will have as much of a profoundly positive effect on Muslims as Protestant entrepreneurs had on the West.
    Time will tell if you and Dr. Nasr are correct.
    I hope that you are.

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  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Onward, Christian Zionists
    Deep-rooted Christian tradition has put its mark on British, US policies in Mideast
    By James Carroll
    FUNDAMENTALISM IS the problem: that assertion defines the diagnostic mantra of Middle East conflict. The Jewish settlers

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  30. David Billington says:

    Wigwag,
    Although generally more conservative, Islam does vary in practice, with gay
    people tolerated in Indonesia, for example. While Russia has had dreadful
    relations with the Muslims of Chechnya and Dagestan, the largest Muslim
    group in Russia, the Tatars, have had peaceful relations with Russia and
    could even be seen as a bridge between Islam and the West.
    One important point to note is that religious tensions have waxed and
    waned. In the early twentieth century, the Middle East initially tried to
    embrace Western or nonviolent ideas: in Iran, there was a constitutionalist
    movement, and Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the Muslim Gandhi, was widely
    admired by his fellow Pashtuns.
    The best way to promote moderation is not by trying to reconcile eternal
    absolutes but by shared endeavor toward common purposes. Anyone
    attending physical or online classes and studying together can speak to the
    common ground that students occupy. Growing numbers of educated
    professionals, doctors, engineers, business figures, and modern-subject
    educators in the Middle East and South Asia belong to international
    professions or communities, and interact peacefully on a daily basis.
    The American approach to sensitive regions should be to strengthen
    common efforts in those areas of non-religious identity and life in which
    such cooperation is possible.

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    US Drone Strike Destroys House Full of Children in Pakistan
    Several Civilians Among 20 Killed in US Drone Attack
    by Jason Ditz, August 23, 2010
    The Obama Administration

    Reply

  32. JohnH says:

    The Israeli propaganda machine has had months, if not years, to dig up dirt against Rauf. And this is the best they could come up with?!?
    Rauf is 62 years old, so any extremist tendencies would have manifested themselves by now. Yet the Israel First crowd yaps that he “might” be an extremist in a moderate’s robes. If so, he better hurry up! He hasn’t got a lot of time left!
    As I’ve argued many times, nothing is more threatening to Israel’s case than prominent, tolerant Muslims. It undoes their phony “fighting Islamism” rationale for brutalizing and dispossessing Palestinians, many of whom are Christian anyway.

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  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non Muslims”
    Perhaps the bigot hasbarist Nadine will tell us where the untruth lies in that statement????
    But probably not.

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  34. MarkL says:

    Direct statements of fact are toxic to Nadine.
    Rauf said nothing different than many non-Muslim experts have said.
    You could argue about whether the US has contributed to injustice in the Muslim world, but there’s no question that the US has the blood of hundreds of thousands —perhaps millions—of Muslims on its hands in the last 20 years.
    Show me where Rauf himself threatens suicide bombing reprisals if the mosque isn’t built and I may take your side.

    Reply

  35. nadine says:

    Some quotes from the “moderate” Imam Rauf:
    “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non Muslims,” Feisal Abdul Rauf said at a 2005 lecture sponsored by the University of South Australia. After discussing the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Rauf went on to argue that America is to blame for its testy relationship with Islamic countries.
    “What complicates the discussion, intra-Islamically, is the fact that the West has not been cognizant and has not addressed the issues of its own contribution to much injustice in the Arab and Muslim world.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awISCKJzVtE&feature=player_embedded
    Eh, just another smooth talker explaining why all the tyranny, fanaticism and terrorism of the Muslim Mideast is entirely somebody else’s fault; Muslims need not change a thing themselves.
    If America is an ally of their autocrats, well, there you go, it’s America’s fault. If America is an enemy of their autocrats and imposes sanctions, well, there you go again, all the dead children (whose numbers the autocrat will arrange to swell, whether by real starvation or dead baby parades, or both) are America’s fault as well.
    And if America goes to war to remove the autocrat, all the dead civilians in the war, who are al Qaeda’s main target, are America’s fault too. The suicide bombers are never responsible for those they kill; only America is responsible.
    You have to admit, that they have America’s guilt and their own innocence very well established beforehand, no matter what anyone does. They have covered every contingency.
    As Wigwag has noted, the bar for moderation in imams is set extremely low. Really, a melifluous and benign tone of voice seems to be the chief requirement. Imam Rauf qualifies on that score.

    Reply

  36. Paul Norheim says:

    Ever seen a Musulman, Kotz?
    If not, that’s understandable: although there are 1.57
    billion Musulmen in the world today, most of them are
    extremely quiet and almost invisible.
    What did he say, that grumpy old Prussian soldier?
    War is an extension of madness by other means?
    In any case, I’m off due to a crypto-religious meeting in
    town today. I’m especially looking forward to “The silent
    threat”, a lecture by a controversial but charismatic
    Canadian analyst and professor in ichthyology, who has
    promised to tell the truth about the so called moderate
    trouts. After lunch, we’ll discuss whether we should
    continue to placate “moderate” vegetables, or employ a
    more innovative, indiscriminate strategy. If you ask me, I
    think we should end the soft approach and start throwing
    yellowcakes from Niger at them. (You can read more about
    this clairvoyant strategy at Anabasis dot com, one of my
    sixteen hundred blogs.)

    Reply

  37. kotzabasis says:

    Radical Islam has declared war on Western societies and their values. So called moderate Muslims are the silent majority of this radicalism and crypto fifth columnists of the Muslim Diaspora as they deliberately abstain from taking a veritable stand against jihadism and even loathe from defining which of these radical groups, like Hamas for example, are terrorists. They resort to equivocation and peaceful platitudes, all in accord to the long used Muslim tactic of taqiyya against enemies.
    Clemons on the issue of moderate Islam is foolishly and perilously approaching a position of becoming the butt of Aristophanean satire. A second hand Socrates lifted in a basket in the misty clouds that prevent him from seeing the reality of the irreconcilable clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.

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  38. JohnH says:

    I think that Pearlman’s “argument” is that South Korea, NATO, and Saudi Arabia behaved as parasites for 50 years, so Israel is entitled to behave that way, too.
    Only problem is, Pearlman, that taxpayer money spent on NATO and South Korea was related to US strategic interests. Likewise Saudi Arabia and its oil. Pi**ing away money in Vietnam and Israel serves no strategic interest. In fact, America’s unquestioning support of Israel harms America’s security.

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  39. Paul Norheim says:

    That question was so fast, Pearlman, that I didn’t catch a
    glimpse of it.

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  40. Paul Norheim says:

    “Why should the Israeli occupation be the “real conflict” for
    entire global community…”
    Didnt mention anything about the global community in the
    paragraph you quoted, Nadine. You inserted it, to support
    your claim that my argument run in circles. It doesn’t.

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  41. JohnH says:

    Another stupid question from Nadine: “Why should the Israeli occupation be the ‘real conflict’?
    1) Because it is American arms that are used to occupy Palestine, American aid that is used to support the daily humiliation of Palestinians, American vetoes in the Security Council that exempt Israel from international norms, and American loan guarantees that allow Israel to build settlements at minimal rates of interest.
    2) America borrows $Billions from China each year to fund the Israeli Occupation, money that should go to health care, schools and job creation.
    3) Americans are supposed to have a say in how their government spends its money, so Americans can supposedly change the situation for the better.
    Nadine would prefer Americans to whine about anything but Israel. She says go bark at the moon or whine about Tibet, Kashmir, and Cyprus, where the odds of American voters effecting change are about the same as influencing the course of the moon.
    Personally, I’d rather focus on getting my own government to clean up its act before tackling the problems that others create.

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  42. nadine says:

    “What is even more absurd and exhausting, is the constant
    framing of the Israel/Palestine conflict among some
    posters here as merely a religious-ideological issue; a
    framing actively designed to obscure and hide, ad
    nauseam, the real conflict: The Israeli occupation and its
    implications. ” (Paul Norheim)
    Why should the Israeli occupation be the “real conflict” for entire global community, as opposed to the Indian occupation of half of Kashmir, or the Chinese occupation of Tibet, or the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, or half a dozen other regional conflicts? Your argument runs in circles like a dog chasing its own tail. Your fixation has become your reason.

    Reply

  43. Carroll says:

    We all know what quarters stir up Muslim hate. it’s been ongoing for years, even before 911.
    Israel and the anti-Muslim blow-up By MJ Rosenberg
    Post-9/11 Islamophobia continues to grow within Jewish communities in the US [Gallo/Getty]
    I don’t know why I am at all surprised that the American Right – including the Republican Party – has decided that scapegoating Muslims is the ticket to success. After all, it’s nothing new.
    I remember right after 9/11 when the columnist Charles Krauthammer, now one of the most vocal anti-Muslim demagogues, almost literally flipped out in my Chevy Chase, Maryland synagogue when the rabbi said something about the importance of not associating the terrorist attacks with Muslims in general.
    It was on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, but that did not stop Krauthammer from bellowing out his disagreement with the rabbi. Krauthammer’s point: Israel and America are at war with Muslims and that war must be won.
    It was shocking, not only because Krauthammer’s outburst was so utterly out of place but also because the man was actually chastising the rabbi for not spouting hate against all Muslims – on the Day of Atonement.
    The following year, the visiting rabbi from Israel gave a sermon about the intifada that was then raging in Israel and the West Bank.
    A sermon with a twist
    The sermon was a nutty affair that tearfully made the transition from intifada to Holocaust and back again.
    I remember thinking, “this guy is actually blaming the Palestinians for the suffering of his parents during the Holocaust.” I thought I had missed something because it was so ridiculous.
    Then came the sermon’s ending which was unforgettable. The rabbi concluded with the words from Ecclesiastes.
    “To everything there is a season. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap … A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
    He then looked up and said: “Now is the time to hate.”
    At first, I thought I had not heard him correctly. He could not be calling on the congregation to hate. There were dozens of children in the room. It wasn’t possible.
    But it was. To their credit, many of the congregants I spoke with as we left the sanctuary were appalled. Even the right-wingers were uncomfortable with endorsing hate as a virtue.
    Yet, the rabbi was unrepentant. I emailed him to complain and he told me that he said what he believed. Nice.
    One could ask what the Middle East has to do with the vicious outbreak of Islamophobia (actually Islamo-hatred) that has seemingly seized segments of this country.
    US Islamophobia’s origins
    The answer is everything. Although the hate is directed at Arab-Americans (which makes it worse) it is justified by invoking 9/11, an attack by Muslims from the Middle East.
    This hate is buttressed by the hatred of Muslims and Arabs that has been routinely uttered (or shouted from the rooftops) in the name of defending Israel for decades
    Just watch what goes on in congress, where liberals from New York, Florida, California and elsewhere never miss an opportunityto explain that no matter what Israel does, it is right, and no matter what Muslims do, they are wrong.
    Can anyone possibly argue that such insidious rhetoric has no impact on public opinion?
    At the very least, it gives anti-Arab and/or anti-Muslim bias a legitimacy that other forms of hate no longer have. Bigots who hate African-Americans or Jews, for instance, feel that they must claim that they don’t. That is not the case with Muslims who can be despised with impunity.
    And here the liberals are worse than the conservatives because liberals exempt Muslims and Arabs (and now Turks) from the humanitarian instincts that inform their views of all other groups.
    They do it actively – i.e., by defending every single Israeli action against Arabs with vehement enthusiasm. And they do it passively, by refusing to evince an iota of sympathy for Muslims who suffer and die at the hands of Israelis – like the 432 Palestinian children killed in the 2008 Gaza war.
    Liberals join conservatives in rushing to the floor of the House of Representatives and Senate to defend the Israelis against any accusation (remember how they robotically attacked the Goldstone report on Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, not caring at about the horrors Goldstone described).
    And then they read their AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee lobby)talking points, enumerating all the terrible things Arabs have done while Israel has, Gandhi-like, consistently offered the hand of friendship. It would be laughable if the effect of all this was not so ugly.
    Why wouldn’t all this hatred affect the perception of Arab-Americans too? Hate invariably overflows its containers, just like hatred of Israel sometimes crosses over into pure old-fashioned anti-Semitism.
    Bottom line: it’s a witches’ brew that is being stirred up, and it is one that will no doubt produce violence. But the witches are not all on the right. Just as many liberals are stirring the pot to please some of their donors.
    I’m not saying you should not blame Fox News’ Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for all this hate. But don’t forget to blame your favorite liberal and progressive politicians. With a few (very few) exceptions, they are just as bad.
    MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.
    And Ms. Shea?…well..
    Search Results
    Teach Your Children Well | The Weekly Standard
    BY Jeanne Hoffman and Nina Shea. August 14, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 45 … Loathing for Israel and Jews is ingrained in a region where the official cultures …
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/…/
    Testimony of. Nina Shea. Director. Freedom House. November 8, 2005 …. Muslim’s duty is to eliminate the state of Israel. Regarding women, the Saudi state …
    http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents
    The Muslim Lobby as an Impediment to the US-Israel Relationship
    (July 2010
    The Hebrew papers always tell more than the US ones and coteret translates them for us…juicy stuff.
    http://coteret.com/2010/08/22/hudsons-co-founder-the-israeli-academic-purge-and-the-subversion-of-us-middle-east-policy/
    Recent Posts
    Hudson

    Reply

  44. JohnH says:

    Typically the religious aspects of a conflict are tools of the protagonists. It is all part of the process of dehumanization of one’s opponent, who cannot be seen to have legitimate grievances.
    You see this every day here. The Israel First crowd yaps endlessly about the threat of Islamo-fascism. They never give legitimate grievances the slightest shrift. For good reason: framing your opponent in the religious dimension justifies your refusal to negotiate, because you can’t negotiate with crazed fanatics. On the other hand, it means that you are absolved of any responsibility as the source of their grievances, because the conflict is not about tangible resources but about religion.
    IMHO religion is often nothing more than a convenient cover for warmongers and their ambitions.

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  45. Paul Norheim says:

    The fact that a lot of serious conflicts around the globe -
    territorial, political, and economical issues, struggle for
    resources, deforestation, environmental degradation etc. -
    often have been filtered through a religious language
    during the last couple of decades, means that these
    conflicts will not be solved by simply intensifying a global
    “clash of civilizations” until the last Muslim, the last
    Christian, or the last Jew is dead.
    Sure, there are religious conflicts and conflicts linked to
    different sorts of fundamentalism and dogmas. These
    conflicts can’t be explained away. But as Eliza Griswold
    (mentioned by WigWag in her first post above) shows, the
    actual conflicts take place in areas where the religious
    issues are intertwined with, or sometimes even obfuscate
    other concrete, serious issues that differ from region to
    region, even from province to province.
    What is even more absurd and exhausting, is the constant
    framing of the Israel/Palestine conflict among some
    posters here as merely a religious-ideological issue; a
    framing actively designed to obscure and hide, ad
    nauseam, the real conflict: The Israeli occupation and its
    implications.
    And this is the reason why these commenters have zero
    credibility on this issue. They are the true obscurantists of
    our age; and their motives for underlining the religious
    extremism among Israel’s adversaries, and for ritually
    accusing their opponents of being anti-Semitists and
    terrorism-sympathizers, are glaringly obvious to the
    informed reader.

    Reply

  46. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Ouch!…reading John Bolton’s name in your first sentence was a kick in the head, especially after seeing that exquisite photo…If, as you indicate, the USCRIF has not been focused on promoting religious freedom globally, but has rather been working to “roll back Islam”, it seems to me to be a simple case of projection on their part…using their position as a “commission” as a front for some other “unstated” purpose, they accuse others of the same thing…remember “Islamofacism” was Busholini’s catch-all term for all the so called Arab-terrorists…it made it easier for Joe Sixpack and Joe the Plumber to get a handle on who to hate…
    If Ground Zero is hallowed ground, why is there no hue and cry about all the porno around its edges?…No one is building right on Ground Zero, so it can remain halolowed ground, but is there a perimeter to prevent anything and everything that could be offsenive to the families of the victims? If there were, and it applied to all, equally, it might make sense to oppose the mosque, but I don’t see it….I see this mosque mosh as a purely political posture for the hyopocrites in the Repugnican party to get people to throw reason out the window and have a completely emotional reaction…Pavlavian re-enforcement to engender fear.
    9/11,9/11,9/11…aren’t you scared again?
    Well, Newt the Brewt will get you there.

    Reply

  47. WigWag says:

    A Muslim, like a Christian, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist may be politically moderate, Paul but as far as I know, there is no branch or school of Islam named “moderate” any more than there is a branch of Judaism or Christianity named “moderate.”
    If we’re talking politically instead of religiously, I am sure that there are Muslims who occupy every space from the extreme right to the extreme left just like people of all religions and no religion can be found across the political spectrum.
    I do think “moderate” is relative term. In the United States, “moderates” tend to be willing to entertain the thought of gay marriage even if they are not entirely reconciled to the idea. Similarly “moderate” Americans are willing to contemplate the idea of female, married and gay clergy even if they are somewhat ambivalent about whether or not they actually support the concept. My guess is that few if any Muslims usually described as “moderate” are open-minded about gay marriage or gay or female clergy.
    Whatever one thinks of groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, few Americans who would self-describe themselves as “moderate” would have anything but contempt for those organizations; Muslims described as “moderate” by the Western Press may not like suicide bombings but it is far from clear that they have contempt for either Hamas or Hezbollah. My point is not to argue whether they are right or wrong, but merely to point out that the term “moderate” is not particularly useful in the context of trying to place where any particular Muslim is on the spectrum from right to left.
    If forced to use the term, what I would say is that in general on religious matters, the Islamic World is sharply to the right of the secular and Christian world (even accounting for the influence of “conservative” Christians) and therefore a “moderate” Muslim is significantly more conservative than your typical “moderate” American or European.
    On the broader question of making a special effort to reach out to non-radical Muslims, I’m agnostic about whether that approach is tactically wise, just like I’m agnostic about whether increasingly frequent and violent confrontations between the West and Radical Islam are necessarily the way to go.
    I haven’t figured this all out in my own mind yet but I am convinced that there is a confrontation that is occurring between Islam and the rest of the world; in fact, like it or not; it’s everywhere you look.
    Islamists are confronting India and Indian Hindus with continuous violence and barbarity; hardly a week goes by where India isn’t the subject of an attack by Islamist extremists of one type or another.
    As I have pointed out, in Asia and Africa, violence between Christians and Muslims is violent, ugly and ubiquitous.
    In the Middle East, one of the many factors inspiring hatred between Jews and Christians is religious differences.
    In China, the Muslim Provinces and the Chinese Central Government are in a continuous state of conflict even if violence has been suppressed by the communist government. Remember it’s not just Xianjing and Gansu; the Chinese also control parts of Kashmir.
    In Russia, secular and Russian Orthodox authorities have participated in incredibly violent confrontations with Muslim Russians with the conflict in Chechnya being the most prominent.
    Is the dispute over the Mosque, a small manifestation of this type of conflict in the United States? I doubt it, but time will tell.

    Reply

  48. JohnH says:

    From what I’ve observed, “religious freedom” abroad is simply a code word for US government sanctioned Christian proselytizing.
    In the run up to the Iraq Occupation, Christianity, Inc. (Pat Robertson and his ilk) were drooling at the prospect of bringing “religious freedom” to Iraq, so that they could convert Muslims. Not that they cared about the indigenous Christians, the Chaldeans. They were the wrong kind of Christians.
    Christianity, Inc. only wants its kind of Christians. Others, like Chaldeans or Palestinian Christians need not apply.

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  49. Dan Kervick says:

    I don’t understand what “placating” is.

    Reply

  50. drew says:

    SC: “…defending the rights of religious freedom, moderation
    and tolerance in the US…”
    I think wiping out these sorts of commissions is a good idea, so
    hear hear.
    On the quote above, I have no idea what “rights … of moderation
    and tolerance” are. I don’t think anyone is trying to defend the
    right to be moderate or tolerant. These are just qualities that a
    lot of people admire. Certainly we are not required to be
    tolerant or moderate.
    I do believe that religious freedom is self-evident in this
    discussion, because opponents of the mosque are very
    supportive of both the religious freedom and property rights
    arguments offered by mosque supporters.

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  51. JustMe says:

    I used to work for the State Dept’s Office of International Religious Freedom – an outfit with its own troubled history. But I can tell you from firsthand experience that USCIRF is rife with Islamophobe reactionaries. Thanks for the article!

    Reply

  52. Paul Norheim says:

    “Placating “moderate” Muslims may or may not be a wise
    approach…” (WigWag)
    Let me ask you, WigWag, do moderate Muslims exist on this
    planet? Or just “moderate” Muslims, a bit like “friendly”
    tigers or “human” monsters?
    During the debate about the cultural center, it looks like you
    and others on your side have regarded “Moderate Muslim”
    as an oxymoron?

    Reply

  53. WigWag says:

    I don’t know anything about the Commission that Steve is referring to so I can’t comment intelligently on whether or not is should be reformed or “zeroed out.”
    But a few things are clear: (1) Steve is right; Islam is going to be around a long time; (2)the West in general and the United States in particular needs to figure out the best way to engage Islam; what that best way is, isn’t entirely clear. Placating “moderate” Muslims may or may not be a wise approach; likewise confronting radical Islamists in an increasingly aggressive manner may or may not be smart. (3) In the United States and Europe, Islam and secular values are increasingly clashing; pretending this isn’t the case solves nothing. (4) In Africa and Asia, Christianity and Islam are virtually at war; as fast as Islam is growing due to population growth, Christianity is growing even faster due to both population growth and conversion. This confrontation will inevitably grow more violent and more pervasive over time. There will be tremendous and increasing political pressure in the United States to take the Christian side in this dispute; whether doing so is tactically wise or not is not obvious.
    Two books on the subject worth reading:
    “The Tenth Parallel” by Eliza Griswold (it just came out last week). I think she received support to write this book about the conflict between Christians and Muslims in Africa from the New America Foundation. Several New American Foundation staff (Steve Coll) and Trustees are thanked in her acknowledgements section (e.g. Kati Marton). Griswold’s father is the former presiding Primate of the Episcopal Church in America. The book is available for the Kindle.
    “The Next Christendom: The Coming Global Christianity.” (2002) Philip Jenkins is a Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University. Griswold cites his work quite often in her book especially about the profound and violent conflict between Christianity and Islam in Africa. This book is also available for the Kindle.
    The ramifications of the violent struggle between Christianity and Islam in the “global south” is something rarely commented upon in the popular press although the New York Times did a recent story on violence between Islamic and Christian Nigerians. Here’s the story,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/world/africa/09nigeria.html?scp=4&sq=Nigeria&st=cse
    Some months ago (May 28, 2010), Walter Russell Mead, who is something of an expert in this area did a post on the subject entitled “Pentecost Power.” I think this link might work,
    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/page/4/
    The Commission that Steve mentions may or may not be the best way for the United States to reflect on this struggle, but reflect on it, we should.

    Reply

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