by David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch
WHY THE GOVERNMENT WON'T SAY "ISLAM"; A CRUCIAL CHANGE ON SYRIA
We have argued that the war against ISIS and radical Salafist Sunnis will be one of states against an armed religious movement. Our natural allies will be Christian nations, Israel, Shiite minorities, the Shiite nations (Iran and a truncated Syria and Iraq) and the Sunni nations. The cultivation of enemies from Iran to Russia to Assad's Syria, we have seen as a strategic error arising from a failure to more clearly define the religious character of our enemy and its natural enemies. Here is the best (but still inadequate) explanation of not calling the enemy "radical Islamists". There is good news that the Obama Administration has come to see that the Assad government is our ally, not a state to be overthrown. We should remember that this striking conceptual turnaround came from a John Kerry-Barack Obama axis which will prove considerably more advantageous to the U.S than the Hillary Clinton/John McCain approach of the last two years. How a reset on Iran and Russia will happen is not obvious at this juncture.
IN YEMEN THE BEST FIGHTERS AGAINST AL QAEDA TAKE THE GOVERNMENT
WARNING: THEY ARE SHIITES
Houthi rebels overthrew the American-supported government of Yemen on January 20 just before the President's State of Union address. The rebels' main complaint against the government has been the ineffectiveness of the Sunni state to fight the radical Salafist Sunni of Al Qaeda of Arabia (AQAP). The Houthi of northern Yemen are Shiites.They are clearly the best fighters against Al Qaeda based in central Yemen. They have promised to work with the many Sunni tribes not affiliated with AQAP. This appears to be another country in which the fight against jihadist Sunnis is going to involve a serious alliance with Shiites. Here is Gregory Johnsen's take on the recent Houthi capture of the American-backed president of Yemen.
CHARLIE HEBDO: LOCAL MUSLIMS, FRENCH CULTURE, AND
A CATHOLIC DISSENT
The assault on the Paris offices of French magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' on January 7 was directed by two Muslim French nationals: Saïd and Cherif Kouachi (ages 34 and 32). The children of Algerian immigrants, the brothers were orphaned at an early age. Whether these brothers were acting on direct orders of Al Qaeda or were homegrown Muslims outraged by the continual attacks on Islam and Mohammed by the magazine is not yet clear. The magazine described itself as secular and leftist. It holds a special place in the hearts of modern Frenchmen which some of us American Puritans may not fully appreciate. The magazine is well known and despised by Muslims throughout Europe who are shocked by the desacralizing cult of pornography employed against the human body and religious symbols. When libertine atheists meet the sword of Islam, the Christian citizen who is against pronography, blasphemy, and murder may not chant, "I am Charlie Hebdo." Here is a good recap of a debate between radio host Hugh Hewitt and Catholic Defense League's Bill Donahue.
Some thought President Obama should have been at the multi-nation solidarity march with the French. Others were glad he missed it. It is very good that John Kerry, who speaks French, did not leave his face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Modi of India. That would have been the triumph of a media reflex over national strategy. Consider the slaughter in Nigeria by Boko Haram compared to the "world event" in Paris. As we examine the Muslim problems in French culture quite apart from caliphate terrorism, we should remember the recent display of French suppression of cultural expression against a woman trying to attend the opera. She dressed a lot like the Catholic nuns who built the parish-based Catholic education system in religiously tolerant America. Finally, Peggy Noonan reminds Americans that this is no time to preach to the French but remember our deep ties to Lafyette and the great national soul of our first ally.
Speaking of France and Islam, a serious display of satire and free speech (unlike the anti-religious pornography of Charlie Hebdo) is the recently published novel Submission by Michel Houellebecq. The target of his pen is is not so much Islam as the emotional and spirtual decadence of the Enlightenment French elite. This review of a review by Rod Dreher is outstanding. The theme here is one close to the heart of Pope Francis: communal humanity needs nations with a religious foundation to overcome the libertine atheism of international finance (economic liberalism of the Right) and sexual anarchy (the denatured autonomy of the Left). The lesson of the Pope is that man must stop his war against nature (especially his own spiritual nature) and return to Christ and the Church and religiously-based national life as the only way to properly care for humanity. The lesson of the French satirist is that if Christendom does not fill the spiritual vacuum in France, Islam will.