Thursday, November 20, 2014

Russia's Short-term and Long-term Prognosis

Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 22, 2014

If the thugs in ISIS were not so busy decapitating people, we might have been paying more attention to a longer-term hostile force, Russia. Russia has been an important target of Western attention since the 19th century, when this once backward, frozen backwater came to life and proceeded to conquer and colonize all the countries across Central Asia (the old Silk Route), ending on China's border on the Pacific Ocean. They controlled 11 time zones and warranted watching.

Russia was an empire from the 18th century onward, a process only temporarily arrested by the Russian Revolution. After the communists briefly recognized the independence of their former colonies, they took them all back again under a new imperial rule, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). After a long Cold War with the west, that empire collapsed and Russia was, briefly, once more a single country, the imperial holdings given (or taking) independence.

Today, Russia is governed by an adept politician with a single-minded program of restoring the glory of the lost empire. Vladimir Putin is a modern, educated, one-time Soviet Intelligence operative and, unusual among Russians, a teetotaler. His brain does not get muddled with vodka, unlike many of his predecessors. He is fueled by a barely concealed rage at how the Soviet Union collapsed and how the United States emerged as the single hegemon in the world.

Liberal Democracy is not his thing; Russia's long past with autocratic governance is more natural to him----and, unfortunately, to the majority of Russian voters. Russia's brutal history has taught the lesson that "better the devil you know than the anarchy you get without him."

For the Russian analyst, there are a few givens that must be considered:

o     Russia can only project power in land war, concentrating on obtaining buffer zones in their periphery. This explains why the Ukraine is so important to them.
o     Their naval power has always been flawed. Most of their territorial waters are icebound much of the year, with outlets so narrow they are easy to watch. The US could see every submarine or vessel leaving these frozen ports.

o     The Black Sea offers the only warm water ports available to the Russian fleet, which explains the seizure of the Crimea. However, it is also well known that the ships are in poor shape, as are the submarines (horrific accidents killing all on board in the recent past). Russia cannot be a great naval power, as are Britain and the US. Even Japan trounced the Russians in 1906 at Port Moresby, a national humiliation.

o     Russian military training is brutal and their mandatory military service is as always corrupted by those with money to avoid it. Leo Tolstoy, the great 19th century writer and once military officer, wrote that the Russian officer corps could barely communicate with their ignorant recruits and they took their orders from a narrow upper crust of aristocratic senior officers.

During World War I, although the recruits themselves were often brave, loyal, and obedient, when faced with the literate and modern armies, the Russian infantrymen were at an increasing disadvantage. “The trinity of Tsar, Church, country still had power to evoke unthinking courage; but defeat and drink, could rapidly rot devotion to the regiment's colours and icons.” (John Keegan, The First World War, p. 141.)  Although today's soldiers are literate, they did not do well in the Afghan war for much the same reasons as they faced during World War I, bad leadership.

o     Russia's old foe, Turkey, still controls the outlets of the Black Sea, which hampers egress of the Russian fleet and the Turkish fleet is far more modern and dwarfs the size of the Russian fleet.
o     Russia's population has declined by half since 1950, whereas the Muslim populations of its neighbors is burgeoning. This is a great threat to its future. Its main source of income, energy, is not enough to make a modern state thrive over the long haul. In addition, they make nothing that anyone wants. Putin's belligerance smacks of desperation.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or  

Friday, November 14, 2014

We Must Put the “Crises of the Moment” in Context

Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 15, 2014

Critics of President Obama have an easy job. They do not have to make the decisions that will impact long-term American wellbeing. That is his job, and like making sausage, it is not a pretty process. It involves heavy lifting and complex issues.

Two principles have governed American foreign policy for the past two centuries: first, make certain that no one power controls all of Europe or all of Asia. We would be standing alone if such a powerful enemy controlled all other countries and natural resources. Imagine our fate if the Nazis had conquered and held Europe from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast of Russia.

The second principle is one that began began in the late 19th century: a world with global trade, an international economic system, and at least tacit agreement on the rules governing civilized countries. Although such a world actually existed, it did not save Europe from descent into World War I. Wilson believed that the international system was not enough without the clout of a league of nations which would sustain peaceful rule of law.

Unfortunately, this too did not work because there was no leadership; America opted for isolationism instead. World War II took up where World War I ended. International law was unenforceable. It took the US and its allies to defeat two powerful and ruthless outlaw states, Nazi Germany and Fascist Japan.

Once more, a new league of nations was formed, this time led by the US. But it was soon apparent that United Nations laws were unenforceable and nation-states, most of which were dictatorships, would not defend liberal rule of law. Liberal democracies were in a minority, but with the leadership of the United States, they prevailed over the advocates of Communism.

Today the world is facing what David Brooks calls “The Revolt of the Weak against the rules of civilization.” We cannot let ourselves panic over the resurgence of primitive Islam in ISIS, which decapitates captives, ethnically cleanses captured territory, and rapes and sells women into slavery. They move quickly, just as the Nazis did in their blitzkrieg campaigns, but it is one thing to take territory and another to hold it. A wise President will not have to wait long before this scruffy terror group actually has a return address (they think they can run a modern state). Geography will kick in with a punishment for their boldness. Hitler learned that too late.

President Putin of Russia is much admired by some of our senators for his “ability to act decisively,” in contrast to our president who is weighing the best responses to this attack on global rule of law. Putin is reckless, and like Hitler and ISIS, is resorting to speed to take what he wants before anybody can react.  Again, it is one thing to take and another to hold. Mr. Putin represents weakness, weakness of a country that lost the Cold War, lost its empire and its ability to cow its neighbors, and has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, a symptom of its economic and moral bankruptcy. When a country makes and sells nothing that anybody wants except for its oil and gas, it does not have much of a future.

For a long-term foreign policy to meet today's needs, we need a president who can see when intervening is in our long-term national interest and when it is not. All irritants in such places as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Russia, individually do not affect the larger interests of the United States. But if taken together, and they do, we can focus on the Black Sea as a whole region with consequences.

Around that sea are Ukraine (under siege by Russia); Russia opposing us in support of Syria's dictatorship and Iran's nuclear aspirations; Turkey, which as it Islamizes is increasingly undependable; and Europe which depends on Russian and Middle East oil and gas. All such issues are tied in to the Black Sea, a place that must be our focus. This is like triple deck chess.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or

Friday, November 7, 2014

Debates About “Intrinsic Islam” Miss the Mark

Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 8, 2014

Some noisy public debates are going on about the sensitive issue of the “intrinsic” nature of Islam. Two members of the liberal intelligentsia (Bill Maher and Sam Harris), who do not find any religion logical, have dared to say that the well-intentioned mantra that “Islam is a religion of peace” is baloney. Islam, they say, is intrinsically violent. The respected public intellectual Fareed Zakaria chastised Maher and Harris for condemning this huge world-wide religion. Too broad a brush, he said, to designate a 1300-year old faith as intrinsically violent..

It is true that most Muslims are not Jihadist, but all Jihadists are Muslim.  Harris says that from its inception, Islam has always made the worst possible choices (medieval institutions) and Maher gives plenty of examples of beliefs anathema to western liberal: killing apostates, abusing women, murdering followers of other religions in the name of Allah, issuing edicts condemning to death those who “insult” the Prophet Mohammad, and rampant sexual violence.

Zakaria makes a good point that Islam is not practiced just one way. Over the centuries, Muslims have adhered more and sometimes less to Sharia law, a code frozen in time in 1200. There are pious Muslims living in non-Muslim countries who obey the host country's law, as well as some in even Muslim-majority countries such as Iran who are only nominally Muslim. However, recently in Egypt a poll was taken asking whether it was right to execute those Muslims who convert to another faith or reject Islam altogether. The vast majority thought it was right. The current military government, fortunately, will not do so. However, nobody has polled the majority of Muslims around the world to ask this, and other questions, that make the faith so primitive.

Maher and Harris find Islam intrinsically flawed, and do so based on its practices for the past 1300 years. Zakaria objects that this condemnation is only valid for a relatively small cadre of extremists, not for the Muslim world as a whole. But what only a few scholars are doing is looking at the religious sources that make the arguments of the Islamists legitimate in the eyes of most practicing Muslims. The radical Islamists are going back to their first model, the life and practices of the Prophet Mohammad and his companions.

If one imitates the life of Islam's founder, one could, of course, imitate his first ten years as a missionary using persuasion and a kindness. However, Islamists note that the last ten years when Mohammad was a warlord trumped the earlier. Arab Muslims are allergic to the very notion of history, claiming that everything before Mohammad was darkness and ignorance. Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam is not a linear religion in which changes occur in time, yet in this one instance, choosing the last ten years rather than the first, they are practicing a horrible historicity.

During the Prophet's last ten years of struggle (jihad) to convert all Arabs to his new religion, he led a guerilla army that waylaid merchant caravans to steal their goods and money; personally tortured captives to find out where the gold was hidden; gave the conquered people the option to convert to Islam, pay an extortion tax if they were “people of the book,” or be decapitated. After killing the men, the women and children were parceled out as booty. When he was finished, only Muslims were permitted to remain in Arabia, a prohibition that remains even today.

Imitating the life of Jesus is very different from imitating the life of Mohammad. Throughout history, many Christians did not imitate Jesus, but those who did, such as St. Francis of Assisi and the Quakers, provided a sterling model. Christianity today has pockets of crazies, but these are not a model for the Christian world. Islam's crazies, alas, are such a model. This explains their success in recruiting foot-soldiers to their cause.

Although we are told that only 5% of the world's estimated 1 billion Muslims are committed Islamists, 5% equals more than 50 million crazies! Not a happy thought. The faith of Islamists is certainly not a religion of peace.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or    

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Elephant in the Room: The War Without a Name

Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 1, 2014

As I watched the unfolding drama of an attack on the Canadian Parliament, I immediately suspected that the killer (or killers) were Muslims, probably converts. It took the rest of the day to confirm something that seems to make many in the press uncomfortable. The press, government officials (our own and other democratic leaders), academics, and the “spokesmen” for Islam (a religion that has no official leadership) tap-dance around trying to avoid the word "Muslim."   “These violent people are not real Muslims,” they claim, “and religion is not motivating their actions.”  How long will this elephant stand there before somebody notices?

The attackers themselves identify themselves not only as Muslims, but as the only “correct” Muslims. They claim that they do their killing in the name of Allah. A week before the Ottawa attack, another Muslim convert (Martin Couture-Rouleau) was shot and killed after he rammed his car into two Canadian soldiers. He had told a 911 operator before the attack that he was acting in the name of Allah. Of course, lone wolf actions are not up to the chaos of 9/11 or the siege of Mumbai a few years ago, but they raise an even more serious issue: public mistrust of their Muslim populations.  We cannot tip-toe around this. This mistrust sweeps up both good and bad Muslims.

The US has also seen a spate of lone wolf killings by Muslim converts. Alton Nolen beheaded a co-worker and attacked another after being fired. His own Facebook included a picture of a beheading, yet the crime was called "workplace  violence." A Seattle man, Ali Muhammad Brown, murdered four people in a killing spree, claiming that he was “living in the cause of Allah.” Yet neither of these monsters had been accused of terrorism.

It is estimated by experts that only five percent of Muslims around the world are jihadists or in sympathy with violent Islam. This does not sound like much until you realize that five percent of one billion Muslims (again, a guess) is 50 million people! And what about the other 95 percent?  How can we tell the good from the bad? Few of the followers of the “peace” part of the “Religion of Peace” dare to speak up, are not organized, and cannot dismiss the legitimacy of following the model of the Prophet's final ten years as a warlord.

Muslims migrate to the Western world because their lives in their native lands are impossible. They do not migrate to other Muslim countries, nor do their native countries welcome immigrants who are not MMuslim. Many do not adhere to Human Rights values on any level. Yet some children of these economic refugees either reject Western culture or insist on replacing it with Islamic rules and customs or, in some cases actually reverse the immigration by going back to Muslim lands to fight jihad, or with girls, to bear jihadi babies.

One more touchy issue is that of refugees. Secretary of State Kerry actually believes that the “Palestinian refugees” are the grievance that motivates ISIS and all the jihadis. Somebody here does not know how to count. Refugees and internally displaced persons in the Muslim world dwarf the number and conditions of Palestinian refugees, the one group still supported by the UN with money and goods. How about Afghanistan, with 648,147; Iraq with 1,800,000; Libya with 79,135; Pakistan with 2,363,993; Somalia with 1,135,416; ;Syria with 11,000,000; Yemen with 547,890; and a grand total of 17,574,581? [Middle East Forum, October 20, 2014.]

The Muslim world is coming apart, and we cannot ignore that Militant Islam has declared war on us and on their less militant co-religionists.

Western governments recognize that some living among us mean us harm. They are now trying to watch the poisonous chat rooms, watch who is traveling to Yemen, Syria, or Turkey to join the jihad and either stop them or jail them upon their return, and keep an eye on the not-so-innocent radicalization of mosques and prisons. Yes, we are sacrificing some of our civil liberties, but it is either that or more decapitations at home or abroad.

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or    

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Laina At the Movies

By Laina Farhat-Holzman
October 2014

The Equalizer
The latest Denzel Washington film, The Equalizer, is based on a long running TV series of the same name. The question asked is how can someone good equalize the more numerous and powerful forces of evil? I just remember the TV series dimly, but the film, while gratifying in its message, made we wonder if in reality a good person can trump organized evil.

The film begins with Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), seemingly an ordinary good man, is a department manager at a Home Depot-like store in Boston, much revered by his co-workers. He is a little out of the ordinary, however, in that he is obviously an educated man (reading through his late wife's 100 world's best books), and he is also someone who does not sleep much.  He leaves his solitary apartment at two in the morning to have tea and read at an all-night diner.

One night he befriends a very young hooker who is also at the diner but is summoned out by her pimp for a client she obviously fears.  When she winds up in the hospital after a savage beating, Washington departs from his solitary decent-man life and unknowingly takes on the local Russian mafia.

It has been interesting to see the Russians once more lighting up our screens as villains, and this mafia makes the Sicilian mafia look like a bad boy club. They are infiltrated into every enterprise: meat-packing, drugs, protection rackets, corrupting police and politicians, and ugliest of all, the trafficking of Slavic girls, some of them very young indeed. They keep all their enterprises in line through unimaginable violence carried out by the worst bunch of tattooed thugs imaginable. How can one person take on such a force and not only fight it, but dismantle it?

We then learn that McCall is a retired black ops government operative who could well be called not just a martial arts master, but a lethal weapon himself. Numbers of opponents do not deter him; within seconds, he uses speed and their own weapons to bring them down. He also gives some of these villains an opportunity to replace evil with good, as he does with two grafting cops who have been working at the Russian protection racket, forcing small businesses to pay them off.

He sometimes has success with American thugs, but never with the Russian ones who are so embedded in evil that they are entirely unrelenting (and who come to very gratifying ends).

The film ends with a suggestion that this will be a series.  Again, warnings for those who cannot stand bloody violence: avoid this. But for those who are gratified by someone being able to equalize and triumph over evil, this is a terrific film.

The Drop
This has been a week of film noir for me, this second one a little more difficult to love than The Equalizer, but it won me over. Besides being the last film to see James Gandolfini, who plays Cousin Marv, whose bar is now owned by local gangsters, it is a revelation to watch Tom Hardy, playing Marv's cousin, Bob Saginowski, whose seeming simplicity masks something more.

We have already met Russian gangsters in several movies this year, so it is no surprise to know that Russian Chechen thugs intimidate bars and shopkeepers in Brooklyn. A bar is assigned randomly to collect the payoff money each week where the money is “dropped” and then picked up in the middle of the night. This method prevents heists, unless, of course, an insider decides to steal from the Chechens (unwise).

Cousin Marv is bitter over the loss of his bar to the gangsters and is bent on a scam to rob them and leave for sunnier shores. His cousin Bob, a straight-arrow and gentle soul, is not told.

The plot is convoluted, but ultimately fascinating as is the burgeoning relationship between Bob and a young woman, Nadia (played by Noomi Rapace of Girl With the Dragon Tatoo), who is being stalked by her former boyfriend, said to have murdered another gangster.

Bob is not the idiot he seems to be; he is a new kind of anti-hero.

Gone Girl
This may be a marriage made in hell, but it is a really good thriller. The author's novel and screen writer propose that in marriage, both partners lie about who they really are while during the passion phase but then wake up to what may be horrible reality afterwards.  Jane Austin would have said: Marry in Haste, Regret in Leisure.

In a leafy Missouri suburb, a husband, Nick Dunn (Ben Affleck) returns from work to find the front door open, the living room furniture tumbled and broken, and his wife of five years Amy Elliot-Dunn (Rosamund Pike) gone.

We follow events with some flashbacks to their meeting in New York, their obvious lust for each other, and their happy marriage until the Recession kicks in and both lose their jobs.  When Dunn's mother becomes terminally ill, the couple move back to his home town in Missouri to help his twin sister take care of her.

There are immediate flashes of potential trouble from the beginning of this marriage: Dunn didn't know until their wedding that she was a wealthy woman (proceeds from her children's books based on her own “amazing” childhood). He was dazzled by her academic accomplishments and she by his obvious down-to-earth charm. Moving this successful city girl to small-town Middle America was going to have ramifications that neither of them would like.

The disappearance alerts police detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) that this may well be a crime scene and evidence such as blood spatter begins to implicate Nick. The story goes viral and the usual TV viragos have a field day crucifying Nick even before his arrest. When a partially incinerated diary kept by the missing wife is found, we hear a version of their marriage experience from the missing Amy.

A famous defense attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) who tries defending Nick in a TV panel winds up taking the case.

Amy, it seems, is not dead at all, but has disappeared leaving enough clues to implicate her husband in her supposed murder. We see this marriage from her viewpoint.

The ending of the movie is a dilly. A marriage saved or a nightmare begun?

The Judge

A hotshot defense attorney in New York, Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his Midwest hometown for the funeral of his mother. While there, his estranged father, a relentlessly upright judge (Robert Duvall) is accused of murdering a bicycler and leaving the scene of the crime.

The problem is that Judge Parker appears to have both gone off the wagon upon the death of his wife, but also might have had a motive for killing this particular bicycler, a loathsome criminal whom the judge mistakenly released, who went on to worse crimes. The judge, however, cannot remember killing the man on his bicycle that night. A blackout?  Alcohol?  Something else?

It seems most of the critics recognized that these two giants of the cinema were worth seeing, but many considered the story too sentimental and clich├ęd. I cannot agree. They were worth seeing, and the ever-fascinating issue of justice was front and center in this film. This was a family drama and a legal drama, with a point.  I would recommend it.


As a woman, I have not had to serve in the military. But if I had, two branches of the service would have been particularly awful: the submarine service and tanks.  Both are claustrophobic and at least during World War II, foul and stinky.

The last movie I saw that featured tank warfare was Israeli-filmed entirely from within a tank during an Israeli war in Lebanon. The claustrophobia was particularly horrifying.

Fury is a story that takes place in April, 1945, just months before the collapse of the Nazis, but deadly nonetheless. Because the American and British air forces completely smashed Germany's once fearsome Luftwaffe, air war had lost its danger. But on the ground, the Nazis were not yet giving up; they had forced every male (and some females) from 14 to 60, willing or not, to go forth in the final defense against the allies. Those who refused were hanged publically to “encourage” the others. The allies went through town after town, with even children on display from the gallows.

This is a war movie reminiscent of some of the other wonderful WWII movies and the more recent one, Private Ryan, but is even more realistically bloody, up close and personal. It is also a story about leadership: Brad Pitt plays “Wardaddy,” a sergeant who commands a Sherman tank with a five-man crew, one of whom is a 19-year-old who has never seen combat before. The odds are terrible. His mission puts him a position where he is outmanned and outgunned. The German tanks are better. But character often matters more than just the odds.

The story is gripping, and I need not tell you any more of the plot, but just recommend it for a glimpse into a world that most of us would not otherwise know. And we should remember how different our world would have been had the other side won.

John Wick

Only in a thriller movie could any of us consider rooting for a hitman! In an unusual bit of casting, the generally nice Keanu Reeves played John Wick, a retired New York hitman who had fallen in love, married, and then lost his wife to an untimely illness. Inconsolable, he was surprised to receive a package that his wife had ordered for him before she died, an adorable beagle puppy “so that he would have something to love after her death.” And love it he did, until an unfortunate run-in with some young Russian thugs who demanded that he sell them his favorite classic racecar. His refusal infuriated the thugs who tracked him down, invaded his house, beat him, killed his puppy, and took the car keys and car.

The most obnoxious of the thugs was the son of the a powerful Russian crime boss, played by another unlikely choice, Michael Nyqvist, who was the hero of the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Nyqvist was thrilling as a nasty Russian villain and Keanu Reeves was suitably lethal as the best of the best hitmen, out to get revenge. Even better, the two men had a history-and both spoke Russian.

I cannot honestly say that this was an elevating movie, but it was strange, violent, and make believe guilty pleasure. If the violence were really depicted with realism, I would not have been there. But it was a gratifying revenge fantasy taking place in a very strange and alien world that does exist among us (criminal underworld culture), and with the most gratifying villains of today, the Russian criminal world. They are so much smarter than the thugs of ISIS! I am sure Mr. Putin is creating more of them for us.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Does This War Have an End Game?

Laina Farhat-Holzman
October 25, 2014

We are bad at long-term planning. It is not natural for Americans to think much beyond the next business quarter, election, or war strategy. Unlike Europe, we have no long history or artifacts such as cathedrals, nor memories of endless warfare. For this reason, and because we have a president who is by nature allergic to “stupid conflicts,” an equally allergic public is asking about an end game to this protracted war against terrorism.

The longest-term policy that we once had was almost a fluke: the policy of containment: western alliances against Soviet Union takeovers in a war that remained for the most part cold. Had it not been cold, we would all be dead by now because a nuclear conflict was always a possibility. We lucked out and the Soviet Union collapsed of its own weight.

Instead of finding the ”end of history” as Francis Fukuyama famously declared, believing that the global order was such that no new major conflicts could possibly emerge, we have been plunged into a new long-term war that we even have trouble naming. We call it the war against terror, the war against extremism, the Iraq or Afghan wars, but carefully avoid calling it what it really is: an ideological war between liberal world order (our gift to the planet) and a religion that has not changed since the 12th century until its re-emergence as a marriage of literal theology with fascism.

It is a continuation of the ideological struggles we faced in World War II and the Cold War. But in those cases, we were fighting against nation states (actually, empires). We could give names to these wars. But we are reluctant to identify our current struggles as a war against Islam, although this is what it is. And it is even more significantly a war within Islam.

This is as much a war against an ideology as were our wars against Nazism and Communism. We are not fighting against all people who claim Islam as their faith, but we (and many liberal Muslims) are at war with this newest face of primitive totalitarianism.

Islam has not had a badly needed reformation that could make its practices compatible with the modern liberal democracies of the west. Until this happens, warfare will continue for a long time. Fortunately for us, these medieval throwbacks cannot produce serious weapons of war, which leaves them more a deadly nuisance than a deadly force.

A comparable long war in history was the Religious Wars in Europe (16th -18th centuries), which killed more people than the Black Plague. It ended when the Catholics and Protestants accepted mutual tolerance and, ultimately, abandoned religious fanaticism for the modern age of reason. The modern world began with replacing the bad old order with political, religious, and scientific freedoms.

One other protracted war also resembles the present one: the anarchist wars against the world's political order. From the mid-19th century until World War I, anarchists set about assassinating world leaders, ranging from the Russian Tsar to President McKinley in the US. When they assassinated the Austrian crown prince and his wife, the horrific World War I broke out, setting the pattern for global war for the rest of the century. But it did end.

The war with Islam will end when several things happen: humiliating and relentless defeat on the battlefield (already happening); ending the lax liberties of Western democracies that permitted the radicalization of its immigrant Muslims; expelling and taking away citizenship of those leaving to fight jihad; and most important of all, a rebellion among Muslims themselves in favor of either reforming their religion or abandoning it altogether.

The west has a duty too. We need to revisit what our values are. When “anything goes,” a society has no reason for existing; it is without culture and only interested in short-term pleasures. We are better than that. We are far better than what the likes of ISIS can offer. Today many Muslims themselves know this. (Check out the last US war with Islam: Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates.)

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Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Andrew Targowski - The Limits of Civilization

The Limits of Civilization

any colleagues or libraries having an interest in the field, they can apply a special 20% discount on all prepublication orders as well. If they would like to take advantage of this offer, please have them email Tricia Worthington at and enter Special20 in the subject line of the email.

Authors: Andrew Targowski (Western Michigan University)
Book Description:

This book has been inspired by Dennis Meadows's (et al.) The Limits to Growth, published 41 years ago, in 1972. It forewarned the general public about the exhaustion of strategic resources of the planet as known at that time, unless economic and population expansions were halted.
This resulted in the world becoming aware of the crisis of civilization. Measures were taken to reduce the consumption of the strategic resources, including the promotion of recycling resources used. Efforts were made internationally to introduce the practice of climate and environmental protection, to little avail.

The present book has a wider scope of analysis and synthesis, and even gloomier conclusions than those found in the two pioneering books.

This author has arrived at the following conclusions:

• The plight of civilization is doomed by the sun expiring within 4.5 billion years. It is also determined by the exhaustion of the known and the potential resources of the small planet Earth around the year 5,000. The future of civilization (considered in the time frame imaginable to man) is swayed by its current crisis, which results from the Triangle of Civilization Death (the combination of the “bombs” of population, ecology and depletion of strategic resources), which will be felt around 2050.
• The future of civilization is dependent on its capability of entering the phase of Wise and Universal Civilization in the years to come. This is conditioned upon the abandonment of the known socio-political and economic systems: capitalism, socialism, communism and their hybrids. These systems are based on the constant growth of population and the economy, which is unsustainable any longer.
• Democratic Ecologism ought to be the new system, securing a wise and sustainable functioning of civilization; it would prioritize the ecosystem in the choices made by man and societies. What must be observed, too, is tolerance based on Spirituality 2.0. It is based on the Decalogue of Complementary Values derived from the main religions 1.0, which the world is now practicing.

Is it possible to introduce these solutions to practical life? This is up to people becoming wiser. Alas, so far people do not even know what wisdom is since wisdom is not taught at school or college. And without wisdom, no civilization stands any chance of success in the universe of systemic chaos. (Imprint: Nova)

Prof. Dr. Andrew Targowski
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008, USA
President Emeritus of International Society for
the Comparative Study of Civilizations