Saturday, September 23, 2023


American Betrayal



"It is not simply a good book about history. It is one of those books which makes history. ... "

-- Vladimir Bukovsky, co-founder of the Soviet dissident movement and author of Judgment in Moscow, and Pavel Stroilov, author of Behind the Desert Storm.

"Diana West is distinguished from almost all political commentators because she seeks less to defend ideas and proposals than to investigate and understand what happens and what has happened. This gives her modest and unpretentious books and articles the status of true scientific inquiry, shifting the debate from the field of liking and disliking to being and non-being."

-- Olavo de Carvalho

If you're looking for something to read, this is the most dazzling, mind-warping book I have read in a long time. It has been criticized by the folks at Front Page, but they don't quite get what Ms. West has set out to do and accomplished. I have a whole library of books on communism, but -- "Witness" excepted -- this may be the best.

-- Jack Cashill, author of Deconstructing Obama: The Lives, Loves and Letters of America's First Postmodern President and First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America

"Every once in a while, something happens that turns a whole structure of preconceived ideas upside down, shattering tales and narratives long taken for granted, destroying prejudice, clearing space for new understanding to grow. Diana West's latest book, American Betrayal, is such an event."

 -- Henrik Raeder Clausen, Europe News

West's lesson to Americans: Reality can't be redacted, buried, fabricated, falsified, or omitted. Her book is eloquent proof of it.

-- Edward Cline, Family Security Matters

"I have read it, and agree wholeheartedly."

-- Angelo Codevilla, Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Boston Unversity, and fellow of the Claremont Institute. 

Enlightening. I give American Betrayal five stars only because it is not possible to give it six.

-- John Dietrich, formerly of the Defense Intelligence Agency and author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy.

After reading American Betrayal and much of the vituperation generated by neoconservative "consensus" historians, I conclude that we cannot ignore what West has demonstrated through evidence and cogent argument.

-- John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D., Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

"A brilliantly researched and argued book."

-- Edward Jay Epstein, author of Deception: The Invisible War between the KGB and the CIA, The Annals 0f Unsolved Crime 

"This explosive book is a long-needed answer to court histories that continue to obscure key facts about our backstage war with Moscow. Must-reading for serious students of security issues and Cold War deceptions, both foreign and domestic."

-- M. Stanton Evans, author of Stalin's Secret Agents and Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies

Her task is ambitious; her sweep of crucial but too-little-known facts of history is impressive; and her arguments are eloquent and witty. ... American Betrayal is one of those books that will change the way many of us see the world.

-- Susan Freis Falknor, Blue Ridge Forum

"American Betrayal is absolutely required reading. Essential. You're sleepwalking without it."

-- Chris Farrell, director of investigations research, Judicial Watch

"Diana West wrote a brilliant book called American Betrayal, which I recommend to everybody ... It is a seminal work that will grow in importance." 

-- Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker 

"This is a must read for any serious student of history and anyone working to understand the Marxist counter-state in America."

-- John Guandolo, president, Understanding the Threat, former FBI special agent 

It is myth, or a series of myths, concerning WW2 that Diana West is aiming to replace with history in 2013’s American Betrayal.

If West’s startling revisionism is anywhere near the historical truth, the book is what Nietzsche wished his writings to be, dynamite.

-- Mark Gullick, British Intelligence 

“What Diana West has done is to dynamite her way through several miles of bedrock. On the other side of the tunnel there is a vista of a new past. Of course folks are baffled. Few people have the capacity to take this in. Her book is among the most well documented I have ever read. It is written in an unusual style viewed from the perspective of the historian—but it probably couldn’t have been done any other way.”

-- Lars Hedegaard, historian, journalist, founder, Danish Free Press Society

The polemics against your Betrayal have a familiar smell: The masters of the guild get angry when someone less worthy than they are ventures into the orchard in which only they are privileged to harvest. The harvest the outsider brought in, they ritually burn.

-- Hans Jansen, former professor of Islamic Thought, University of Utrecht 

No book has ever frightened me as much as American Betrayal. ... [West] patiently builds a story outlining a network of subversion so bizarrely immense that to write it down will seem too fantastic to anyone without the book’s detailed breadth and depth. It all adds up to a story so disturbing that it has changed my attitude to almost everything I think about how the world actually is. ... By the time you put the book down, you have a very different view of America’s war aims and strategies. The core question is, did the USA follow a strategy that served its own best interests, or Stalin’s? And it’s not that it was Stalin’s that is so compelling, since you knew that had to be the answer, but the evidence in detail that West provides that makes this a book you cannot ignore. 

-- Steven Kates, RMIT (Australia) Associate Professor of Economics, Quadrant

"Diana West's new book rewrites WWII and Cold War history not by disclosing secrets, but by illuminating facts that have been hidden in plain sight for decades. Furthermore, she integrates intelligence and political history in ways never done before."

-- Jeffrey Norwitz, former professor of counterterrorism, Naval War College

[American Betrayal is] the most important anti-Communist book of our time ... a book that can open people's eyes to the historical roots of our present malaise ... full of insights, factual corroboration, and psychological nuance. 

-- J.R. Nyquist, author, Origins of the Fourth World War 

Although I know [Christopher] Andrew well, and have met [Oleg] Gordievsky twice, I now doubt their characterization of Hopkins -- also embraced by Radosh and the scholarly community. I now support West's conclusions after rereading KGB: The Inside Story account 23 years later [relevant passages cited in American Betrayal]. It does not ring true that Hopkins was an innocent dupe dedicated solely to defeating the Nazis. Hopkins comes over in history as crafty, secretive and no one's fool, hardly the personality traits of a naïve fellow traveler. And his fingerprints are on the large majority of pro-Soviet policies implemented by the Roosevelt administration. West deserves respect for cutting through the dross that obscures the evidence about Hopkins, and for screaming from the rooftops that the U.S. was the victim of a successful Soviet intelligence operation.

-- Bernie Reeves, founder of The Raleigh Spy Conference, American Thinker

Diana West’s American Betrayal — a remarkable, novel-like work of sorely needed historical re-analysis — is punctuated by the Cassandra-like quality of “multi-temporal” awareness. ... But West, although passionate and direct, is able to convey her profoundly disturbing, multi-temporal narrative with cool brilliance, conjoining meticulous research, innovative assessment, evocative prose, and wit.

-- Andrew G. Bostom, PJ Media

Do not be dissuaded by the controversy that has erupted around this book which, if you insist on complete accuracy, would be characterized as a disinformation campaign.

-- Jed Babbin, The American Spectator

In American Betrayal, Ms. West's well-established reputation for attacking "sacred cows" remains intact. The resulting beneficiaries are the readers, especially those who can deal with the truth.

-- Wes Vernon, Renew America

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This week's column examines the embargo the media, from left to right, slap on fact after death. They may think it's good manners (or good politics), but it's not only a disservice to readers and viewers, it's dangerous for democracy.

Something about the death of a famous liberal person turns the media into grieving widows whose dictum against speaking "ill" of the dead eliminates all sober analysis of the life in question. Once, death in the passing parade came to us, more or less, in "just-the-facts, ma'am" obituaries. Now, breaking, live and for the duration, a celebratory loop plays on about even the most mixed and controversial public lives.

Notice I said "mixed" and "controversial," restrained terminology to describe the life and times of Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose death triggered a media dump of Hallmark-curlicued...

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It is bad enough -- awful enough, dispiriting and dangerous for the Republic -- for our own media to airbursh away Ted Kennedy's criminal behavior at Chappaquiddick, where Mary Jo Kopechne died 40 years ago this summer, kicking into action the Kennedy fixers and shills that kept the first-term senator politically "viable." (More on this in this week's column.) But being told that the American media set a good example of "forgiveness," or that America is to be congratulated for being the "land of second chances" is almost worse. It's no compliment; it's just evidence that our shamefulness is world-renowned.

From The Telegraph:

Ted Kennedy’s career shows that America is indeed the land of second chances.

In Britain, as today’s...

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The Times Online (UK) today notes:

"Four British soldiers die for sake of 150 votes."

The story is about British losses to secure Election Day safety in a sector of Afghanistan where thousands were eligible to vote and 150 showed up.

Regardless of how many showed up, there is something wrong here -- something that the headline-writers could have emphasized with one more word. The headline should read:

Four British soldiers die for sake of 150 Afghan votes."

It makes you wonder: Why are British (and, of course, American) soldiers dying for the sake of Afghan votes? If Afghans want to vote so much (and that is debateable), why aren't Afghan forces fighting for their own people? More important question:  Why do we care so much about whether...

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Iraqi strongman wannabe Nouri al-Maliki has failed to join the latest incarnation of Iraq's leading parliamentary bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance.

Reports the Wash Post:

The new Shiite coalition will be led by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a conservative party that is among Iran's closest allies in Iraq. It also includes the movement of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr; the Fadhila Party; former Pentagon ally Ahmed Chalabi; and former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafari.

In other words, it's old home week at the Shiite coaltiion: All of these characters and parties have been in and out of Iraq's leading political alliance, with its list headed by the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, since the 2005 parliamentary elections. All that's really missing this time around is Maliki and his Dawa Party.

Alliance leaders said they invited Maliki to join but refused to guarantee that he would keep his job if the alliance obtained a majority of seats.


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I interupt the wall-to-wall coverage of the death of Lionofthesenateted Camelotisgonekennedy (sick-making) to bring another breaking obituary. This news isn't exactly breaking, because the death in question, that of Saudi billionaire and serial libel tourist Khalid bin Mahfouz, took place on August 15. But it's fresh, all right, as there has been no coverage of it that I can find in Western media. As the subhead below notes, "Libel tourism is so effective that the Western media apparently fears even to report serial suer Khalid bin Mahfouz's death."  Rachel Ehrenfeld and Millard Burr assess the Saudi's death -- and why...

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Turki's two faces (thanks to Ruth King): Neither likes the idea of US oil independence.


Turki al-Faisal is extremely upset with talk, just talk, of US oil independence, even from the vassal-in-chief. Today, in Foreign Policy, the Saudi  inveighs against such "demagoguery."

It's an amusing read, actually, and quite revealing of the depth of fear even the lip-serviced prospect of American Independence from Saudi Arabia inspires in the desert chieftains.

He writes:

"Energy independence" has become a byword on the American political scene, and invoking it is now as essential as baby-kissing....

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When Nathan Hale, Yale Class of 1773, was caught in New York gathering intelligence on the British, he was hanged as a rebel spy. His very famous last words are said to have been: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." He was 21 years old. Notably, his statue by Bela Lyon Pratt, which stands on Yale's Old Campus, was a gift of Yale alumni 141 years after Hale's death --  testament to the reverence sucessive generations of Americans at Yale felt for him.

In a description of the statue of Nathan Hale, there is this suddenly pertinent fact about this 1914 gift from Yale alumni:

Unable to afford the renowned Gilded Age sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, they commissioned the piece from his former assistant, Bela Pratt.

"Unable to afford" ... they economized? They didn't turn to a Saudi Arabian oil well, I mean, "prince" for cash?

How times have changed. I wrote extensively...

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Andrew Bostom illuminates the reason the media is blind to the significance and potential consequences of the Riqfa Bary story at the American Thinker today: why, as he puts it, "Rifqa Bary faces death for her apostasy from Islam, while the media ignores the solid religious and institutional grounding for the practice."

The story of the 17-year-old apostate from Islam who says she ran away from home in Ohio and sought refuge with a Florida church group to avoid becoming a victim of an "honor killing" at the hands of her Sri Lankan Muslim family has largely played out online at such blogs as Atlas Shrugs and Jawa Report. Big Media have ignored the story -- Fox News excepted. But, as Andy notes, Fox's "coverage...

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Warning: The following images may be "inflammatory" and/or "tasteless."   It is up to you to determine which are so.

1) The Saudi Arabian flag.

Earlier this summer in Copenhagen, speaking in the Danish parliament, Wafa Sultan projected an image of the Saudi flag on the wall behind her and explained the symbolism:

Would you please take a look at the Saudi flag. The writing on the flag translates, "No God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." Underneath that religious statement there is the large sword. It represents the superiority of Islam and its desire to impose it by force on the non-Muslim. This statement is the underlying foundation of Islam.


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No, I have not just raised the curtain on a new Mel Brooks musical number, with the "imam," center stage, about to break out singing: "Autumn ... at Ya-le ... means Ram-adan...."

Behold Yale's Coxe Cage where in October 2008 hundreds of area Muslims, including Yale students, gathered for an Islamic service. (Story and slide show here.) I found this stunning East-meets-absorbs-West image while researching this week's column in which I make the case that Yale probably censored the Motoons in accordance with Islamic law to please potential Muslim donors who fund the extension and entrenchment of such law.

Along the way, I found a bumpy trail of disjointed factoids that, even though they don't ...

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The pictures tell the story. From the (UK) Sun:

Sick ... Abdelbaset Ali al Megrahi, in suit with walking stick, beside Gaddafi's son last night


Cheers ... crowds wave Scottish flags and 1992 pics of Megrahi

Prince Andrew's upcoming royal visit to Libya is now "in doubt."

In doubt?


This week's column sums up what I think is really going on at Old Eli:

The official story is that fear of Muslim violence drove Yale University Press (YUP) to censor the Danish Muhammad Cartoons and other imagery of Muhammad from an upcoming book about, well, the Danish Muhammad Cartoons. That's what Yale, its administration and press, says publicly, matter-of-factly, and, it seems, without shame.

But it is a shameful thing. Yale's decision to censor pictures of Muhammad from an academic text about them is one of those watershed moments that history will record as institutional capitulation to sharia (Islamic law) at one of the storied centers of Western learning, American branch. It also happens to be my alma mater.

Yale is hardly...

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From today's Christian Science Monitor:

Despite intensive last-minute lobbying by the US government, the Libyan intelligence agent convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and killing 270 people is on his way home to Libya today after serving just eight years of a life sentence in a Scottish prison.

Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who is said to be suffering from a terminal illness, was released today on compassionate grounds by Scotland's justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill. At around 2:30 in the afternoon in Scotland, a commercial jet dispatched by Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi touched down in Glasgow to whisk Mr. Megrahi home to a hero's welcome. ...

Megrahi was the only man ever convicted in the 1988 attack, which killed 189 Americans, making it this country's single largest terrorist attack on civilians before Sept. 11.


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UPDATED 8.19.09:

I never met Robert Novak, wasn't influenced by him, and, truth be told, didn't much read his column or see him on TV. I was mainly aware of him as a very famous conservative columnist marked by a reflexive and implacable hostility to Israel. I learned only today at that he also had a shocking affinity for Hamas. Having passed away, he is now the subject of quite unstinting appreciations from fellow conservatives, even those who are known for their strong support for Israel.

Particularly when it comes to media figures, it is not "speaking ill of the dead" to discuss their passionately, publicly argued opinions. Why is Novak's support for Hamas now overlooked by so many of his peers?

Here, from a November 24, 2001...

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Last week's column, which I am posting today (below), opens like this:

Question for Americans: How can we as a nation even consider using our military for another "surge" in Afghanistan when the "surge" in Iraq has left little more imprint on the sands of Mesopotamia than the receding tide?

On one of my final proofreads, I changed a word. Originally, it read, How can we ... even a consider  "surge" in Afghanstan

when the "surge" in Iraq has left no more imprint on the sands of Mesopotamia than the receding tide?

At the last minute, I hedged, thinking well, maybe there is just a teeny tiny bit of a post-surge US imprint, so I changed "no" to "little."

That, as this morning's Wash Post confirms, was a mistake. Seems the Iraqi government wants to hold a referendum in January on booting US forces out ahead of schedule, which to my mind promises to erase any and all residual US influence. I'm fine with this because I would like to see US forces leave yersterday and take their "surging" comrades in Afghanistan with them for a major realignment of US policy that would never again place infidel America in the unworkable, failed strategy of fighting for the soul of Islamic nations. What is disturbing about the story is the non compos mentis US/Pentagon reaction.


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"Swimmers told to wear burqinis" reports the London Telegraph today. And no, those early 20th century suits (above) give a woman far too much freedom of movement and essential Vitamin D to be permissible in  21st-century Islamo-British swimming pools. The Telegraph explains:


Under the rules, swimmers – including non-Muslims – are barred from entering the pool in normal swimming attire. Instead they are told that they must comply with the "modest" code of dress required by Islamic custom, with women covered from the neck to the ankles and men, who swim separately, covered from the navel to the knees. When does the madness stop? Or, more to the logical and essential point, when does the immigration policy that...

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Illustration by Pat Crowley


Over the weekend, Roger Kimball reported two new facts related to the  enforcement of sharia prohibitions at Yale University Press against publishing imagery of Mohammed -- and especially imagery of Mohammed that illustrates the sacralized links between Mohammed and jihad violence.

Not only was Yale Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer in on the Motoon-censoring consulation with author Jytte Klausen, but also one...

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Jytte Klausen, Yale Dhimmiversity Press author, today in a Dutch newspaper:

Klausen vindt het geen principezaak. ‘Als er echt gevaar dreigde, zou ik vinden dat de cartoons uit het boek moeten. Ik ben geen Geert Wilders.’


Klausen does not think it is a matter of principe [to have the cartoons published]. "If there is a real danger, the cartoons should be removed from the book. I am not Geert Wilders." No one needs to draw a picture to show that In this free speech fiasco at Yale, there's no free speech hero.

But with this latest retreat, we begin to get some almost comic relief.  Klausen's concession...

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Behold the guardian of Yale Dhimmi-versity Press: John Donatich, dressed for a hard day's work in the Ivory Tower snipping out what he calls "gratuitous" images of Mohammed through the centuries. Mohammed by Old Masters  and Mohammed by sketch artists; Mohammed in a 19th-century woodcut by Dore and Mohammed in a 21st-century caricature by Westergaard. I refer, of course, to Yale University Press's decision to delete all imagery of Mohammed in a book about imagery of Mohammed, which, as Roger Kimball reports today in a fine bit of detective work, appears to have emanated from Yale University's highest offices. The book's title is The Cartoons That Shook the World. Sans pics, the book also should be re-titled: [Expletives Deleted] That Shook the World. Or just: ...That Shook the World. It makes as much sense.


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It's official. Islamic law extends to New Haven, Connecticut where Yale University Press has chosen to submit to the dictates of sharia and not reproduce the 12 Danish Mohammed Cartoons in a new book about ... the 12 Danish Mohammed cartoons. Indeed, in keeping with sharia's dicates, the book, The Cartoons that Shook the World by Jytte Klausen, will include none of the originally planned images of Mohammed, including, as the New York Times reports, "a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dalí."

How was this editorial gag put in place? The Times reports (via View from the Right):

Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities,...

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LTC Timothy Karcher was the last American commander of Sadr City, and the officer who personally signed over jurisdiction of that hellish sector to Iraq in June. As some readers know (from the links  here), shortly after the sign-over and shortly before leaving Iraq, LTC Karcher was the victim of a roadside bomb attack in which he lost both legs above the knee. In a follow-up roadside bomb attack, one of his soldiers, Sgt. Timothy David, a veteran of six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was killed. No statements of outrage and gratitude followed, from either American or Iraqi leadership. No vows of finding or bringing in the killers followed, either. In fact, aside from a few mainly local mentions, nothing followed.

Despite the void, however, LTC Karcher's life story continues. For most of the summer, he has been hospitalized at Walter Reed, and for most of the summer his wife has been blogging about his medical progress -- his slow and painful and purposeful medical progress. Here is Mrs. Karcher's most recent entry


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Well, was it? I have always feared that pumping additional troops into Iraq could achieve no more than stop-gap success because the strategic formula of the surge depended on triggering impossible Iraqi reactions to US-created security -- namely, what we took to calling Iraqi "political reconciliation." It was rampant violence, the surge theory went, that prevented the warring sects of Iraq from achieving "political reconciliation." Remove the violence, our PC-Bush administration/PC-Pentagon fantasists said, and an Iraqi Republic of Kumbaya would break out.

Never mind that this formula made zero religious, historical, cultural or anthropological sense. We, Occidental hangovers that we are, so ordained this Occidental assumption about the Islamic peoples of Iraq -- that without car bombs in markets every day, Jeffersonian democracy or something would flower. Hence, La Surge, a strategy that was never more than a military catalyst for a Hail-Mary-hoped-for Iraqi political reaction. 

Now this.


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Today's column is, at root, an expression of horror at the extent to which pandering dhimmitude characterizes our military strategy in Afghanistan. We inferior-minded infidels will do anything, it seems, to win the approval of the Islamic masses. We will sink endless billions into their country; build endless infrastructure; provide state-of-the-art security; train untrainable armies and police forces, and on and on. Now, according to our new commander  in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal (photo above), in our effort to "protect [the Afghan people] from everything that can hurt them," we will even ask our troops to think twice under fire. All of this we will do in the effort to win Afghan "hearts and minds," which, our geniuses (West Point '76, many of them) have decided, will win this overnight, as one general recently put it. "Winning hearts and minds" -- awful phrase with unfortunate...

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The war in Afganistan, in case you didn't know, in the words of Gen Stanley McChrystal, is "a struggle for the support of the Afghan people."

And you probably thought it was a hangover from the war on terror. Nope. We are now waging a campaign whose strategic priority (if you can call it strategic) Gen. David Petraeus calls "first and foremost ... a commitment to protecting and serving the people." And that would be the Afghan people. And no this is not the Peace Corps talking. This is the military's way of explaining what Gen. McChrystal calls a "holistic counterinsurgency campaign."

Holistic? There's more. Going pretty zen for a Joint Chiefs Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen puts it this way: "It's not about how many enemy we kill; it’s about how many civilians we protect." (And when you can snatch the pebble from my hand ...)

It's also about how many civilians we pay. (Plus ca change,...

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Over at Powerline, Paul Mirengoff specuiates about the political steps that may have led Prez O to honor Mary Robinson with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Robinson is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) who led the infamous 2001 Durban Conference Against Racism  that immediatey preceded 9/11. Durban, remembered for its vicious outpouring of anti-Semitism -- the US and Israel walked out --  is not the sort of resume-builder to garner America's highest civilian honor, except, of course, in times of "hope and change."

Worth noting is that it is more than a notorious anti-Semitic hatefest and, as Paul's post also lays out, animus toward Israel, a key US ally, that marks Robinson's career. As High Commissioner, the former president of Ireland...

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From the daily digest "Publishers Lunch," news of a new aquisition:

NON-FICTION: HISTORY/POLITICS/CURRENT AFFAIRS Activist, "Green for All" organizer, and blogger Ibrahim Abdul-Matin's GREEN DEEN: How American Muslims Go Green, illustrating the synergies between Islam and environmentalism, and offering Muslim Americans practical steps for going green that help them align their personal and community practices with their aspirations for a better world, to Johanna Vondeling at Berrett-Koehler (World).

An industry wag writes: "I can see it now. Coming soon -- THE GREEN JIHAD: HOW TO DESTROY THE WEST WITHOUT DESTROYING THE PLANET...!"

Time for some arithmetic, folks.

Behold the pie chart, which comes from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). It shows all sources of Afghan civilian casualties to date this year. Such casualties are widely, if not exclusively, portrayed by US civilian and military leadership as The Stumbling Block to our winning "hearts and minds," or "trust," in Afghanistan. Such trust is widely, if not exclusively, depicted at the key to victory. As a starry-eyed Brig. Gen. Steven Kwast,  commander of 5,000 airmen at Bagram Field, Afghanistan, put it to the Air Force Times yesterday: "Victory in this conflict is about winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people and engendering their trust. When the Afghan people trust us and believe us when we tell them what we’re going to do, we will win this overnight."

When the Afghan people trust us...How long, oh Lord, does this line...

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Today's NYT Sunday Books Section has an enthusiastic, if less-than-informative front-cover review by Fouad Ajami of Christopher Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe, a new book I have not yet had a chance to read. It is one of those reviews in which the reader learns more about what the reviewer thinks of the subject at hand -- Islam in Europe -- than the author. Ajami writes:

In his “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe,” Christopher Caldwell, a meticulous journalist who writes for The New York Times Magazine and other publications, gives this subject...

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The Friday arts section of the New York Times was bait on a hook for Old Movie fans with a layout built around a large and lovely photo portrait of Cary Grant.

No, not the one above, but this one here:

I don't know what's with the sepia tones -- as opposed to b&w -- but there you have it.

So, I picked up the story by Mike Hale, preparing to enjoy a bit of time travel -- a considered look back over Grant's movie career pegged to a festival of his films opening at BAMcinematek, which, despite the Mittel Europa overtones, is the Brooklyn Art Museum's repertory film theatre. The headline promised a deservedly, if routinely, appreciative, critically cogent appraisal -- "Once Upon a Time a Real Leading Man."

For a movie critic (which, speaking of once upon a time, I once was), a Grant retrospective is kind of like a vacation: a string of first-class, top drawer movies, a number of lesser entertainments, some real clunkers, but all in all, a dazzlingly memorable career created by a dazzlingly memorable actor -- a heroically designed leading man whose sense of style we can now appreciate as an early form of performance art, who happened also to have a genius for romantic, even screwball comedy --- not easy at all. And not common at all. He was unique. Grant has a tremendous run of movies in the late 1930s including The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing up Baby (1938), Gunga Din (1939), Only Angels Have Wings (1939), His Girl Friday (1940), and, to top it off, The Philadelphia Story (1940).


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