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Showing posts from March, 2011

Qaddafi Soup

Muammar Qaddafi is a terrorist and he has been one from the day his regime began 40 years ago. He had his hands all over the Lockerbie Pam Am Flight 103 bombing in 1988, and we should have taken him out as soon as it occurred to us that he had a role in it. When Qaddafi started clamping down on insurrectionists in his country, we attempted to strong-arm him into stepping aside by suggesting we might re-open the Lockerbie investigation and bring charges of crimes against humanity against him. The idea was that we had the goods on Qaddafi and if he didn't back away from defending his regime against the rebels, we would go after him in international court. That not only made us look weak, it showed us to be hypocrites in our outrage over the atrocity on Pan Am 103. How in the world do we withhold our vengeance over the murders of Americans over Lockerbie until - and only  until - Qaddafi compounds the crime by killing his own people? That made us look so obviously unprincipled. I don

Final Exam

In December of 2008, George W. Bush was President, Barack Obama had just been elected President, and I was a high school Honors American Government teacher. I stumbled across the final examination I gave them just before Christmas break that year and thought I'd share it here. It seems relevant today in light of today's volatile international political and economic climate, and a national economic climate that includes a national debt that is 34% higher than it was in 2008. My students did very well on the exam, but I wonder how their elected officials today would do on it. Here it is: Looking back to the collapse of the Roman Empire, Rome's economy had been declining for centuries. Rome had grown wealthy on the proceeds of its territorial expansion, but when expansion ended after Rome succeeded in bringing stability to its frontiers, this source of new wealth and economic growth also ended. Lacking new sources of income from expansion, manufacturing, expanding exports,

The Caliphates - 9. From the Ashes of Corruption

Muhammad Leads Early Muslim Warriors in Battle Beginning with the war and turmoil that surrounded the Prophet Muhammad's rise to the leadership of the Muslim faith, Islam has proven itself anything but benign, anything but placid for a significant part of its history.  The final dozen years of the Prophet's life were spent at war, and the caliphates that followed stayed true to that example. With the ascendency of the First Rightly Guided Caliph Abu Bakr, Islam won over conversions by force throughout Arabia. The Second Rightly Guided Caliph Umar, however, took Islamic expansionism to a new level as he spread the young Islamic caliphate to include Jerusalem, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, and Persia. The caliphate retracted somewhat under the Third Rightly Guided Caliph Uthman ibn Affan as he tried to harness the multitude of cultures that fell within the Islamic caliphate. The Fourth Rightly Guided Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib had struggled with the fact he believed he should have be

The Caliphates - 8. The Pan-Islamic Mandate

Al-Safa Palace and the Kaaba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia Three-and-a-half years after Imam Khoei's assassination in Najaf, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) met at Al-Safa Palace in Mecca (Makkah). The OIC, with its 57 member nations, has positioned itself as the voice of the Ummah - the Muslim world - and is second only to the UN as the largest international organization in the world. Its main office is located in Tehran, Iran. The OIC drafted and approved The Makkah Pact at that 2006 conference, aimed at making a compelling call for Sunni and Shiite unity throughout the Islamic community, but particularly in Iraq, where bombings of mosques, assassinations, and attacks by one sect against the other were rampant. The Pact forbade Shiites and Sunnis from killing each other, and issued what amounted to a universal proclamation that, "The Muslim is he who professes his faith by proclaiming 'Lailaha Illallah Muhammad Rasulullah' (There is no god but Allah and M