Robert A. Heinlein’s assertion “A generation which ignores history has no past; and no future,” is a good starter to understand the issue of the Vienna Agreement. After the Munich Agreement was signed, in September 1938, Britain and France deliberately abandoned Czechoslovakia to Hitler, believing this was the only way to save the world from another war. However, Winston Churchill: ““You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war. ”Exactly as in 1938, Obama had to choose between dishonor and war, and he chose dishonor. Now we all will have both the dishonor and the war.
One of the great wonders is how people translate information into knowledge. In fact, history proves that lack of knowledge stems from mental blindness, ignorance, selective hearing and information. We recycle and circulate information we hear and read without any inquiry and criticism, and believe this is the truth and the whole truth. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson declared, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Wolfgang von Goethe reiterated this, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
All that Obama wished was to establish a legacy for his foreign policy, but he got the opposite, and we will get the disaster. This is a colossal failure. Not only has he betrayed U.S. allies in the Middle East, mainly Israel, Saudi-Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Persian Gulf states; not only has he deliberately strengthen Iran’s power to become a regional hegemon at the expense of these states; not only he has created a huge vacuum and brought the failed states of Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria; not only to the vacuum created entered all the Jihadi Islamic fanatic groups – Obama actually has also accelerated the nuclear race in the Middle East, and inevitably the outbreak of regional war in the future. This is only in the Middle East, but the decisive failure is domestic, in the American society and economy.
What happened in the late 1930s? The shameful Allied refusal to confront Nazi aggression bestowed Hitler what he wanted time and again in exchange for his eternal promise of “peace in our time.” The shameful appeasement resulted in the outbreak of the Second World War. Most important to note: nevertheless the appeasement and the capitulation, still the aggressor, Germany, initiated the war. This is the lesson to deeply learn and adopt: appeasement never works. Appeasement comes out of defeatism and it also breeds defeat and colossal failure. Appeasement, said Winston Churchill, is feeding the dragon hoping it will devour you last. However, even being the last, the dragon will eat you, because he is dragon, and he is hungry.
If we take Winston Churchill’s saying: “In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity;” it seems that Obama operates just the opposite: in war – magnanimity; in defeat – resolution; in victory – defiance. This is exactly what happens today. By deliberately abandoning Israel, Saudi-Arabia and Egypt’s security concerns, Obama has paved the way for Iran not only to develop a nuclear weapon, but worse than that, he encouraged Iran’s desires to become a political and military hegemon in the Middle East. As in WWII, war will breakout in the Middle East, and the initiator will be the aggressor, Iran. That is exactly because you can never change the dragon’s character, and because appeasement means horror and it yields catastrophes.
One needs only to look now at Iran’s ideology (as no one looked at Germany’s under the Nazis): Iran is mandated by Islam to conquer the world; to make all men convert, submit or die. Ayn Rand was correct by declaring: “The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise with evil on basic principles.”
The Munich agreement was called by Churchill a “total and unmitigated defeat.” This is exactly the case of the Vienna Agreement of July 14, 2015, with Iran. In the 1930s Britain and France had sought every possible way to evade confronting Germany, by giving up and giving in and capitulating to Nazi Germany. Today the Obama Administration has been following the same track with the same results: it evolved from the assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal” to the policy of any deal, even a bad one that can be reached, is better than having no deal at all.
During this period of time the US has proven that it is much more eager to reach an agreement with Iran than the Iranians. This is amazing because the Iranians were under the pressure of economic collapse and the depression of diplomatic isolation. Indeed, history repeats itself, as Europe before the Second World War, the US has been willing to compromise on all of its own principles, while the Iranians compromised on none. Iranian negotiators understood this bizarre situation and extorted more and more concessions. This is proof of Aldous Huxley’s assertion, “Facts do not cease to exist simply because they are ignored;” and the resulting ware will prove Ayn Rand’s, “You can ignore reality; but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” Perhaps this situation belongs to George Orwell’s declaration, “There are notions that are so foolish that only an intellectual will believe in them.”
Like the Munich Agreement that culminated in the victory of the aggressor at the expense of the appeaser, the Vienna Agreement is a total defeat of the US and a great victory of Iran. Now a nuclear arms race has begun. Saudi Arabia will have a nuclear weapon from Pakistan. Egypt and Turkey will perhaps turn to Russia and China for nuclear bomb or purchasing its devices. Russia and China have both proven eager to play the double game: trading with Iran and supplying nuclear reactors to anyone who seek for it, in due prices. Another actor is North Korea, as demonstrated by Iran, is willing to engage in nuclear proliferation.
There are two kinds of Iran: nuclear Iran and conventional war-mongering aggressive Iran. Nuclear Iran is built as a strong-threatening support to war-mongering aggressive Iran. Despite the miserable propaganda message delivered by the US, the reality is that it has exacerbated the regional and the international situation. Not only it has paved the way for Iran to continue its nuclear weapon program, but it also helped Iran to strengthen its strategy of the two-track axes fronts: the “Levant Axis,” the northern one, by controlling Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; and the “Maritime Axis,” the southern one, by controlling the Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb straits.
Both are aimed at directly threatening militarily Saudi-Arabia, Egypt and Israel, and even strangling them militarily and economically. These states know exactly the dangerous situation, however, the US has become blind and deaf, as its eyes are widely shut on Islamic Jihadi terrorism and Islamic millennialism. Moreover, the northern Axis Iran is building is also meant to constrain and contain Turkey, while the southern Axis is a direct way to influence and control the strategic area leading to Africa.
Iranian influence and stature will grow and flourish thanks to the lifting of sanctions and the resulting hundreds of billions of dollars of economic investments in Iran which will finance their terrorist activities and allies, and sustain their tyrannical regime. There is nothing in the agreement that addresses Iran’s continual violation of basic human rights. We must always recall Karl Popper’s eloquence: “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”
It must be recalled: the Vienna Agreement was between the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia on the one side, and Iran, on the other. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Persian Gulf States are not signed partners to the agreement as if it does not bind them. Now they are free to defend themselves. Though deliberately abandoned by its only ally, Israel is no Czechoslovakia. It has the power and the ability to defend itself, to deter and to retaliate against Iran. It is worth quoting Winston Churchill’s, “If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
We must cry out loud and clear: ‘Never again.’ It must also be recalled that in the Middle East Western-Oriented rationalism is not common, and there are not only suicidal Shi’ites and Sunnis, but wars also start unintentionally or from miscalculation. Add to this grave situation the emergence of the Islamic Caliphate State (ICS. There is no longer DAESH, ISIS, ISIL), which threatens the existence of the Middle Eastern nation-states, and the possibility that al-Qaeda will seek to regain its power and prestige among the Muslim Salafi-Jihadi groups by performing a “super-blast.”
Hear is exactly the formula to world disaster. The Vienna Agreement, like the Munich Agreement in the 1930s, and the North-Korean agreement on October 21, 1994, has a tremendous impetus to bring these horrors into reality. The Middle East is not susceptible to the discipline of mutual deterrence let alone to abiding by written agreements.
Many will say, the Iran deal is really a high-stakes, a strategic bet. This is not the situation. The Vienna Agreement is worse than that. Not only does it give Iran free license to have nuclear weapons, it also allows it to become the regional hegemonic power. Senator Lindsey Graham describes Obama’s approach to Iran as “dangerously naïve… I think he is misjudging what the Iranians want… and the best evidence of what they want is what they’re doing right now to destabilize the region without nuclear weapons.”
However, Senator Graham is mistaken. Obama does this deliberately. It seems he believes that powerful Iran as a regional hegemon will bring stability to the Middle East. Totally, the other side happens. What drives Iran the most is the need for the religious victory of the Shi’ite version of Islam against the Sunnah. Iran’s top enemy is Saudi-Arabia and the Iranian target is controlling Mecca and Medina religiously. That is, if are we honest enough to admit, Saudi-Arabia and not Israel is the primary target of Iran’s nuclear capability. That does not mean that Israel can relax. On the contrary Israel’s very existence is at stake, however Saudi-Arabia should be much more concerned as it is a greater prize for Iran.
Unfortunately the agreement makes the war in the Middle East more probable. Iran’s successes will encourage the leaders of the regime to be more confident in their strategy and that they are on the track of fulfilling their mission. The Western world is nearly irrelevant, as the US is weak and Obama acts to destroy its presence as a world power. Europe suffers even more a lack of leadership, and continues its policy of appeasement and defeatism; Russia under Putin wishes to be back a world power, and it automatically confronts America on every issue. China grows more aggressive and assertive in the face of American weakness.
Moreover, the Middle East is in anarchy and chaos, with many failed states, like Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria; while Egypt and Saudi-Arabia are under direct threat: sub-conventional (by Salafi-Jihadi and Salafi-Takfiri Islamic groups); conventional (the consequences of the Islamic Anarchic Tribal Winter, mistakenly referred to as “Arab Spring”); and unconventional (Iran’s nuclear capability, and the following nuclear arms race). The Middle East has lost the most from Obama Administration’s faults.
This situation was clearly reflected in the negotiations. Obama offered almost unlimited concessions while ignoring all its own red lines. This was exactly the situation between Britain and France on the one hand and Germany on the other, in the late 1930s. The current colossal capitulation of the US to Iran is also marked by the fact that Russia, the EU and China will highly benefit from the deal economically. This is the only reason why they go together. The words of Douglas MacArthur fit this situation: “I am concerned for the security of our great Nation. Not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
Vienna repeats the shameful October 1994 agreement of President Clinton with North Korea. The same syndrome; the same results; and still the same unlearned lessons by the political system as much as by academic “experts”, who endorsed the agreement with North Korea as successful and prolific. Unfortunately, this syndrome is worse, as in the 1930s’ issue of what to do with Nazi Germany aggression; and as in the 1990s’ issue of what to do with the North-Korean aggression; and like today’s issue of what to do with Iran’s aggression — the media and the academia have betrayed their role and took one-sided policy, that of supporting the appeasers and ignoring the aggressors threats.
These two important players have bestowed the political systems the impetus and rationalized their policies to continue their failed policies. This reality has become a syndrome. The academia-media have been betraying their balancing role of giving sense to the functioning political system. They have become, as Norman Dixon indicates in his book, Our Own Best Enemy, by denying the severe hazards coming from the aggressive states, and by rationalizing the failed policies adopted. It is the right place here to quote Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The agreement signed on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, known as “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA), is weak and dangerous; it undermines American national security and discredits the US foreign policy among its allies; it poses grave threats to Israel, Saudi-Arabia and Egypt, and it promotes all-out war, perhaps nuclear, in the Middle East. From its beginning Iran’s nuclear program was acquired by deception, evasion and concealment. Iran continues this pattern today, and now it has an international legitimacy to successfully fulfill its strategy.
The only barrier left to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state is the new elected President in the US and the Congress act together to prevent this agreement from moving forward. The US Congress must invalidate this agreement. It has to learn the consequences of the agreement with North Korea and never to betray its balancing role in the American web of government.
Albert Einstein’s assertion is correct: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” After the Nazi invasion to Poland in September 1, 1939, the British Parliament understood the huge disastrous failure of Chamberlain, and replaced him with Churchill, in May 1940. His speech at the Parliament was of historic importance. “All I can promise you is blood, sweat, and tears… We shall outlive the menace of tyranny; we shall not flag or fail; we shall never surrender… You ask: what is our aim? I can answer only in one word. It is victory; victory at all costs; victory in spite of all terror, however long or hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.”
The US Congress has to recall that Noah built the Ark before the Deluge. This is of utmost importance: before the Deluge, and not after it. The Free World desperately needs leaders like Winston Churchill; courageous and realist leaders to save us out of this madness. The Congress should tell President Obama loud and clear: with this signed agreement, you have become like Neville Chamberlain instead of being Winston Churchill. You lead the US and the Free World to a huge disaster.
However, the problem is more aggravated, as Chamberlain stepped down from office quietly even willingly, as he understood his failure. Obama continues to believe arrogantly that he is not mistaken, that his policy is righteous. Like President Carter, He deludes himself that he is carrying out a divine mandate. But whose? And to whom? Obama proves Barbara Tuchman’s assertion in her March of Folly, of leaders who bring disasters on their own peoples out of stupidity, blind stubbornness, and permeability of mind.
July 14, 2016 was the one-year anniversary of the nuclear agreement with Iran. In his new book, Obamabomb: A Dangerous and Growing National Security Threat, Fred Fleitz, of the Center for Security Policy detailed analysis of the dangers this agreement continues to pose to U.S. and international security, including: why the threat from Iran’s nuclear weapons program is growing despite the JCPOA; how the nuclear agreement gave Iran a pass on its nuclear weapons work and led the IAEA to dumb down its reports on the Iranian nuclear program; how the agreement has made Iran a greater regional and international threat; and how the Obama administration is trying to grant further concessions to Iran.
Fleitz’s detailed analysis of this agreement not only proves the growing danger that the agreement poses to U.S. national security. For Fleitz it is clear: the nuclear deal is so dangerous that the next president should tear it and re-negotiate another nuclear pact: Iran must cease all uranium enrichment and its research. Iran must not have a heavy-water reactor or a plant to produce heavy-water. Iran must robust real and effective verification and inspections; Iran must curtail and agree to limitations on its ballistic missile program. Iran must agree to end its meddling in regional conflicts and sponsorship of international terror.
Now we hear of the cash payment of $400 million to Iran. Obama, Kerry, and others in the administration, claim it was not ransom money and had nothing to do with the release of hostages. The decision to unfreeze the money in cash was made because “the nuclear deal [was] done” and the prisoners were released. Contrary to many others, I believe in what they say. The reason is Obama’s ideological and strategic policy of bringing Iran to a regional hegemony. He has never abandoned this target. In his naïve deep misunderstanding of the situation, he still believes that Iran and Saudi-Arabia can walk together in leading the Middle East, with the US is the force “behind.”
The US continues to support the forces of evil in the Middle East, like Iran; the Jihadi groups in Syria that oppose Bashshar al-Asad but identified with al-Qaeda; and Turkey under the Erdogan dictatorship caliphate. At the same time the US continues its policy of suppressing Egypt’s al-Sisi; embarrassing Saudi Arabia; and coercing Israel to adopt policies that compromise its security.
On July 8, 2016, a Washington Post columnist wrote, “The reality that many Republicans have still not come to terms with is this: that Barack Obama was elected and reelected, fair and square, and that the American public knew what it was doing.” He is absolutely right. And that is exactly the reason the US has so deeply deteriorated in all webs of American life. To make it short: domestically, there is misery and wretchedness among the society, being on the verge of internal racial war. In foreign policy, the US has become weak and unimportant in international relations, while it has ruined the Middle East. World balance of power has vanished. The balancer of the balance of power, according to Hans Morgenthau, has ceased to exist, and the international relation is in a state of chaos.
The records of history will show that Obama has been perhaps one of the greatest failed President in the history of the US. He has changed America – for the very bad. He has stolen America from its citizens, and abandoned their cherished values: the family (“the American way of life”); the military (patriotism and believing in the greatness of America); and the country (“God Bless America”). Obama has transformed every aspect of American values to the bad.
This is not the American dream or the American spirit. According to Philip Haney, Obama is an anti-civilizational agitator whose primary goal is to create destruction and tyranny. Obama ‘dismantles’ America’s defenses. Now the big question is how America fell out in love with him from the beginning? The answer seems paradoxically simple. The majority of people is gullible, brainwashed by the Big-Left-Media, uninformed, historically illiterate, uncurious, incompetent to do background research, and possessed of an extremely slow learning curve.
Obama’s policy of coercing and forcefully imposing his Muslim believers on America is painful, awful and tragic. Muslims don’t want to assimilate or to adapt themselves to American (or any Western) principles and values, they want the US (and Europe) to adapt itself to Islam and adopt their 7th century desert values.
James A. Lyons, retired Admiral, put it on May 9, 2016: How Obama transformed the military. There is no question that America’s worldwide leadership, power and influence have been significantly degraded over the last seven and a half years. The basic reason is that Obama has been very successful in the implementation of his goal to fundamentally transform America. In so doing, he has undercut the Judeo-Christian foundation of this great country while at the same time promoting the advancement of Islam throughout our society — including the U.S. military. This transformation, at its core, is anti-American and anti-Western. Yet it is also pro-Islam, pro-Iranian and pro-Muslim Brotherhood. Compounding this travesty is Mr. Obama’s decision to embrace our sworn enemies. Unbelievable.
The ‘multicultural’ makeover of our military threatens to undermine the very fabric of our military forces, and is being accelerated with no apparent opposition from military or congressional leaders. Mr. Obama has used the military’s founding principle of civilian control to impose his debilitating directives which are destroying the military’s warrior mentality and the ‘will to win.’”
Maureen Scott has called Obama “the Architect of Destruction.” Obama appears to be a tormented man who is filled with resentment, anger, and disdain for anyone of an opinion or view other than his. He acts in the most hateful, spiteful, malevolent, vindictive ways in order to manipulate and maintain power and control over others. Have we ever heard Obama speak lovingly of the U.S. or its people, with deep appreciation and genuine respect for our history, our customs, our sufferings and our blessings? Obama is void of the basic emotions that most feel regarding this country and is insensitive to the pride we have in our national heritage. Not a day goes by that he is not attempting to defy our laws, remove our rights, over-ride established procedures, install controversial appointees, enact divisive mandates, and assert a dictatorial form of power. Obama thrives on tearing us down, rather than building us up. He is the Architect of the decline of America, and the epitome of a demagogue.
This paper has only one aim: to introduce the similarities between leaders in the process of creating a political vacuum that enables the onslaught and encroachment of evil forces to ruin the existing world order and balance of power.
The Battle for the Essence of the Democratic Party
When President Trump fired defense secretary Mark Esper and cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs just days after the elections, the President set a new integrity litmus test. He was clearly cleaning his circle of those who could stand up to him on the big stuff, such as not sending troops on the Black Lives Matters protesters or not pronouncing the elections rigged. In the meantime, Trump was showing the American public who he still considered loyal by not firing them by keeping the agency chiefs who stayed at least somewhere in the middle.
In the new Biden era, being fired by Trump will be considered the new badge of honor, an integrity stamp of a sort. Despite talk of firing FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel, Trump has not taken the decision, yet, and there surely must be a reason for it. To paraphrase Trump’s infamous McCain quote, I like those who were fired by Trump, not those who were not fired by Trump. This is now the new integrity litmus test.
In May 2020, I was amidst my campaign for UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech as one of the top finalists, when in an interview on Bulgaria on Air I called the Trump Administration’s and the US authorities’ treatment of the media and the protestors during the Black Lives Matter crackdown “despicable”. I was set on going after the Trump Administration and the US authorities if I had the chance to win the UN mandate on freedom of speech. And I had no plans for going easy on anyone.
There is something profoundly wrong with the US authorities, if instead of going after the crimes, they willingly choose to go after those that have a reaction against the crimes, outraged by crime impunity.
US agencies who “just don’t get it” have to be defunded. And that brings us exactly to the discussion on the future of the heart, soul and essence of the Democratic Party.
The Democratic party has never been about appealing to the middle in order to be liked or about maintaining some kind of lowest common denominator to make sure that no one got offended. The Party has always been about equality and social justice, housing some of the most bad-ass status-quo shakers — not those that wanted to make sure that rich abusers stayed comfortable, racists were not inconvinienced, or abuse of military power for some illusive common good that served only those in power went unchecked. This is the party that offends and has offended throughout the decades to shake the status quo. This is why it is shameful that veterans in the Democratic Party have tried to shame Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others who have run and won their mandates on classical Democratic Party values.
Civil rights movement defenders in the black marches never said: “let’s have a march but let’s do it only on the pavement not to inconvinience cars”. They took the whole street.
When I worked for Congressman Bill Delahunt, the Chairman of the House Sub-committee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, representing 10th congressional district of Massachusetts, some 14 years ago, we did not say that torture by the CIA and the CIA extrajudicial rendition flights were okay but not too much, in order to appeal to the center. We would say that torture is unacceptable, that America can do better than that.
Social justice and equality are uncomfortable. Rights are defended and guarded. They are never simply given. As an example from the other side of the aisle, when Republican President Eisenhower sent the troops on Little Rock to enforce black kids’ right to attend school just like any other kid — what Brown vs Board of Education reaffirmed in order to end racial segregation exactly 30 years before the day I was born — Eisenhower did not aim for troops to only show up and waive at the crowds. The soldiers took the black kids by the hand and walked them straight in the school, in the face of hundreds of racist opponents — not trying to please them.
Defending rights takes grit and courage. And some US agencies will never really get it unless their budgets are cut and they are all actually pressed up against the wall — to change unwillingly, forcably and through the trivial but always effective use of financial pressure.
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich’s reaction to the Black Lives Matters protests at the time when I was running for UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech this year was that it is the protesters that should be arrested under an outdated rackateering law from the 1940s — not the murdering cops. A memo leaked to the New York Times showed that Mr Bowdich considered the social justice movement “a national crisis” comparable to 9/11. The hundreds of thousands of people mourning and marching across the country, unified by the simple thought that no life should be taken lighly, for nothing, were actually similar to terrorists in the eyes of the FBI who wanted to charge them as racketeers.
It is that kind of injustices and human rights infringements that I would have stood up against as UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech, as witnessed by the outrage and intentions, expressed in my May media appearances. I claimed back then that it is precisely in times of crises that rights are tested and defended. The United States is no exception. The US government is bound by international human rights law standards and no interpretation by second-rate lawyers loyal to the Trump Administration, comparing social justice protesters to racketeers and terrorists, can change that. International voices such as myself and others are here to make sure that US authorities do not forget their international human rights legal obligations.
America has a long way to go to recover from the damage that Trump and his cronies spread across the various US agencies have done to democratic principles and human rights. The Trump institutional capture of key agencies such as the FBI and the CIA, let alone DOJ, has lead the country into a downward spiral.
US authorities will not learn unless their actual day-to-day, functional survival is put on the line. People do not get it otherwise. This is why I fully support AOC and others in their defunding efforts, which are considered by many as controversial, extreme, out there and even dangerous, but in reality are simply the only effective way to fight institutionalized racism within the FBI, the police and other law enforcement agencies. “There is nothing radical about moral clarity”, to repeat AOC’s simple, yet powerful assertion. The comfortable, lowest common denominator parts of the Democratic Party need to wake up and realize that it is the Black Lives movement that got Joe Biden and the rest of the party across the finish line in November. And this precisely will be at the heart of the battle for the essence of the Democratic Party over the next four years.
Why are some Muslims, from India to the U.S Voting against their Natural Allies
Recent national elections in the U.S. and regional elections in India have presented an interesting conundrum. The numbers show that some Muslims, are voting in a counter-intuitive fashion. Given the rise of Islamophobia and right-wing religious nationalism, both in the U.S. and in India, one would surmise that Muslims would vote overwhelmingly to the left of center. But both, in India and in the U.S., many Muslims have however chosen to send a message to the center-left – your sympathetic rhetoric and your verbal condemnations of Islamophobia is not enough, we want to see concrete policies that improve our political and economic conditions. Neither the promises of Joe Biden, nor the fear of Hindu-nationalism is influencing their vote. These Muslims are, for sure, in a minority albeit a growing one. Politicians on the center-left may ignore them at their own peril.
In the U.S.
In the U.S., President-Elect Joe Biden’s campaign outreach to Muslims went far beyond that of any presidential candidate in the past. Biden’s campaign had a manifesto for American Muslims and a designated outreach person. Biden spoke at Muslim conventions and even quoted from Islamic scripture. He dropped an “inshallah” in the debates. Biden promised to end the so called ‘Muslim-Ban’ on day one and has repeatedly condemned Islamophobia. Biden spoke up for Uyghur Muslims in China and Kashmiris in India and has opposed the annexation of West Bank. He has promised to resume relations with the Palestinians and restore aid to them. Even Imran Khan, the PM of Pakistan, a self-proclaimed champion of Muslims, does not have such an impressive pro-Muslim curriculum vitae, he has repeatedly refused to speak up for the Uyghurs.
While a majority of American Muslims campaigned very aggressively for the Biden-Harris ticket and raised millions of dollars for the Democrats, the exit polls indicate that only 69% of American Muslims voted for them. On the face value that is a huge win, but if you look at in comparison to the past it is troubling. Despite the fact that Biden went far beyond any other candidate in his outreach to Muslims, and the Islamophobia of President Trump is well documented, Biden has garnered the least percentage of votes by a Democratic presidential candidate in the last four elections according to exit polls conducted by the Council on American Islamic Relations.
A possible explanation for this relatively weak performance is that, for some Muslims his “iron-clad” support for Israel and his willingness to work with pro-Hindutva operatives in the U.S., make his opposition to Islamophobia sound less credible. Words are not enough. If his electoral promises do not actually translate into actual policies, one can expect further decline in Muslim support for Democrats. American Muslims are a rapidly growing and politically engaged community that is over represented in swing states.
A closer reading of the exit polls suggest that things are worse than they seem. The exit polls show that while 17% American Muslims voted for Trump (up from 13% in 2016), 11% declined to reveal who they voted for. It is possible that they lean heavily towards Trump, hence the secrecy. That would mean that in spite of all his Islamophobic rhetoric, Trump may have doubled his support among American Muslims. One Trump supporter told me he voted for Trump because Trump did not invade a single Muslim country in four years unlike Biden who supported the invasion of Iraq.
The recent elections in Bihar has an interesting story to tell. The state is clearly polarizing as most gains have been made by parties on the extremities. Prime minister Modi’s right-wing Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) went from winning 53 wins in the 2015 elections to winning 74 of the 243 seats in 2020. A significant swing in favor of Hindutva ideology. The Communist Party (CPI-ML) gained 9 seats, it had 3 seats in 2015 to 12 seats in 2020. The communist parties combined had a 400% increase, they went from 4 to 16 seats. The parties in decline are the so-called secular centrist parties. The Rastriya Janata Dal (RJD) which is the biggest single party in the state lost five seats (80-75) and the Indian National Congress (INC), the grand old party of India, also lost ground (27-19).
Clearly the secular center is shrinking. The biggest surprise of the elections was the performance of Asaduddin Owaisi’s All Indian MajlisIttehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), a Muslim party, which in the past five years has gone from 0-5 seats. The Majlis won in predominantly Muslim area of Seemanchal and is being accused by commentators of stealing the secular vote away from secular parties. Some are describing Majlis as BJP’s B-Team.
It is interesting that now in Indian politics, the code for Muslim vote is ‘the secular vote’. Indian Muslims are now the last line of defense for the rather rapidly shriveling secular space. The criticism of Owaisi and the Majlis for denting the prospects of secular parties in Bihar is both misplaced and inaccurate. The question that is important is not why Owaisi’s Majlis, a party historically based in Hyderabad (South India) is contesting elections so far in the North of India. The key question is why are Muslims in Bihar voting for Majlis? A party that has no record of governance in their region.
In a speech months before the elections, Owaisi predicted a tectonic shift in Seemanchal’s politics and he said that it was coming because of the profound injustices and inequities that plague Muslims of that region. If secular parties that have governed the state for decades had delivered good governance to Muslims, Owaisi would have stayed at home.
Muslims are increasingly disillusioned by secular and left politicians. Islamophobia was on the rise even before Trump became President and 37% of American Muslims, pre-covid pandemic, were found hovering near the poverty line. There is much discontent. I think just as 17-25% American Muslims voted for Trump rejecting the centrist politics of Democrats – many Muslims in Bihar too are frustrated by the failure of secular parties to improve their material condition. The region of Bihar where Owaisi’s party won five seats is the poorest and infrastructurally the least developed area of the state. Voting for secular parties for decades did not help them much. They have been voting without hope. They too are tired of the lip service.
Muslims of Bihar are fortunate that they have an alternative in Majlis and they are able to reject both Indian secularists and Hindu nationalists unlike some American Muslims who feel that they are stuck between Republicans who are Islamophobic and Democrats who promise much but deliver little. The minority of Muslims who appear to be voting counter intuitively, seemingly against their own interests, either for Donald Trump in the U.S. or the Majlis in Bihar, are clearly sending a signal to secular politicians – do not take our vote for granted, you need to earn our vote.
The center-left may be a natural ally of Muslims, but if it does not deliver for Muslims, they may lose their vote in ever increasing numbers.
Which Coronavirus Policies Succeed, And Which Fail: N.Y. Times Analysis Confirms Mine
According to an analysis by and in the New York Times on November 18th, which is headlined “States That Imposed Few Restrictions Now Have the Worst Outbreaks”, “Coronavirus cases are rising in almost every U.S. state. But the surge is worst now in places where leaders neglected to keep up forceful virus containment efforts or failed to implement basic measures like mask mandates in the first place, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the University of Oxford.”
At Strategic Culture, on May 21, I had published my own analysis, which was based upon tracking the data globally and within countries, and within the various states of the United States, which analysis concluded that countries (and states) which apply the least-stringent regulations in order to keep as low as possible the spread of the virus are failing the most to contain or limit that spread. I labelled those the “libertarian” countries, and I noted that what I called the “socialist” countries — the nations which were the most strictly imposing scientifically confirmed regulations in order to keep those numbers down — were having the best success at limiting the spread of this virus. My study was global, and its headline was “Ideology and Coronavirus”. Unlike the Times article, I was forthright about the ideological implications of the coronavirus data — because those implications are vastly important. (The handling of this pandemic is providing reams of data that test the effectiveness of the various locales’ predominant ideology at dealing with a global life-or-death years-long public-health emergency in regions throughout the world. This is like a global laboratory experiment testing the two opposite ideologies: libertarianism, which is against government regulation, versus socialism, which applies government regulation. No government is purely one or the other, but those are the two poles.)
The analysis in the Times article shows a chart, and represents on it almost all of the states, as dots that indicate both the amount of regulation which has been applied, and the lowness of the infection-rate which has resulted; and, at the upper left corner on it, are the two Dakotas, as “Weak recent containment measures and many cases,” while at the bottom rightmost corner is Hawaii as “Strict measures and fewer cases.”
The Times chart is showing, only locally within the United States, during just the past few weeks, what my analyses had shown, regarding not only the international and longer-term data, but also within the United States itself and recently, not only longer-term and internationally. One of my articles, on November 1st and titled “The Highest Covid-Infection-Rate States”, showed the infection-rate for all 50 states, and noted that, “In 2016, the top 17 [the states with the highest rates of this infection in 2020] voted for Trump, and the bottom 5 voted for Clinton. All but 3 of the top 24 voted for Trump, but from numbers 25 to 45, there was a political mixture. The highest infection-rate state, North Dakota, has a Covid-19 infection-rate that is 14.6 times higher than the lowest Covid-19 infection-rate state, Vermont.” Of course, the Republican Party (Trump’s Party) is the more libertarian Party, and the Democratic Party (Clinton’s Party) is the more socialist (though actually just as totalitarian) of the two Parties. (Both Parties represent only their billionaires, who also own and control the media; and this is the way that America’s aristocracy controls the Government. For example, the very pro-Democratic-Party website PoliticalWire quoted from and linked to the NYT’s article, but always fails to include any of mine, because I am critical against both Parties. Truly independent news-media are almost non-existent in the United States.)
Whereas the Times’s chart of “Avg. new cases per 100,000” failed to include Vermont, Vermont is the state that has, for the longest time, been among the best three on not only cases per million but also deaths per million, from this virus, and substantially better even than Hawaii, and both states are among the two or three that in recent decades have been the strongest for Democratic candidates, and the weakest for Republican candidates. However, Vermont especially is politically independent, and, so, it has a Republican Governor, Phil Scott, whose record on containing this virus has been the best in the nation; and he was just re-elected in a landslide, 69% of the votes (largely because of this terrific record). Right now, however, the number of daily new cases has shot up suddenly about fivefold in just the past week; so, Phil Scott’s record is in jeopardy. If that surge quickly ends, then he could become the strongest Republican to run against Kamala Harris or Joe Biden in 2024. He would not only receive almost all Republican votes (since that’s his Party), but also at least a third of Democratic votes, and almost all independent votes. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he would be the likeliest to win the Republican nomination, because (just as is true about the Democratic Party) that Party’s billionaires will be making that choice. (It was blatantly true also with regard to Biden and Harris.) This epidemic will be a major political challenge both in 2022 and in 2024. Anyone who wants to see Governor Scott’s press conferences regarding this crisis, so as to know precisely what his coronavirus-policies have been, can see them here. His November 20th press conference is here. He and his governing team receive and answer there many intelligent questions, so that the policies which have led to the best results in America are amply explained there.
On November 16th in South Dakota (and then repeated nationally on National Public Radio on November 20th), reporter Seth Tupper headlined “Two States, Different Paths: Vermont Keeps Virus Low While Rivaling SD’s Economy” and provided a thorough report, including graphs of infection-rates over time, comparing two states, South Dakota, which has the nation’s second-highest infection-rate (after only North Dakota’s 9%) of 7.8%, versus Vermont, which has the nation’s lowest infection-rate, of only 0.5% — one-fifteenth as high. Tupper explained the different policies that the Governors of those two states had applied, and how those policies produced vastly different results for the infection-rates and the death-rates in their states’ populations, but only moderately higher increase in unemployment in Vermont than in South Dakota, which at the peak in April had reached 16% unemployment in Vermont, versus only 10% peak in South Dakota; and, by the time of August, both states had nearly identical low unemployment-rates. Whereas the death-rates from the disease soared around a thousand fold, between April and November, in South Dakota, the death-rate remained virtually flat, almost no increase, in Vermont, throughout that entire period. However, both states were now experiencing soaring infection-rates during the current, second, wave of the epidemic.
Author’s note: first posted at Strategic Culture
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