Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Denial Is The Belief System of Fools

A very Merry Christmas to you all!  We are lucky people to be where we are.

Laina Farhat-Holzman
December 27, 2014

We have a saying in our culture:  “It's as plain as the nose on your face.” This means that something is obvious, beyond doubt. However, there is now a fad around the world to deny the obvious. We no longer live in an era, such as much of the 20th century, when most people trusted science, trusted their governments, and mostly trusted their teachers. Denial has become an American problem, but unfortunately it is now global.

o     Climate Change. Supposedly educated Republicans are denying climate change, which is not only validated by the majority of scientists, but is as plain as the noses on their face. Is this denial sincere, or a political pose?

o     Crazy Love. Young women deny the experience of their families and society when they willfully choose to marry monsters. Adolescent enthusiasts for Islam who live in modern Europe are rushing off to Syria to become willing sex slaves and to bear Jihadi babies.  Have they any idea of how they will be treated?

But they are not alone.  One young American woman who is 26 and should know better, is planning to marry the very scary Charles Manson, now 80, the convicted ringmaster of a cultish murder spree almost 50 years ago, slaughtering a pregnant woman the exact same age as his current girlfriend. She is convinced, despite all evidence, that Manson is innocent and she loves him because “he loves animals and trees and the environment.” Is she unhinged or just stupid?

o     Islam is a Religion of Peace. Many very educated people who should know better have swallowed Muslim propaganda, denying its bloody origins and even bloodier history. Mass murder terrorists and lone wolves commit atrocities with obvious glee while shouting that they are doing this in the name of their god and their religion, yet deniers claim that this not the “real Islam.” The advent of ISIS has begun to erode this nonsense.  One can see the noses on severed heads.

o     Our Government is Overreacting to Supposed Terrorists. The number of fatalities perpetrated by the Religion of Peace has grown to 17,958 around the world, an increase of 60 percent over 11,133 in 2012. Do deniers have to have their noses rubbed into this fact?  War has been declared on us.

o     ISIS is an American and Israeli Plot. Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei and other very embarrassed Muslims deny the reality of ISIS returning to the model of the Prophet himself. They believe instead that ISIS was established and trained by the US and Israel to discredit Islam. Such belief is also found among deniers that 9/11 was carried out by Arab Muslims; they prefer the explanation that it was a CIA stunt. Also, they say the Apollo Mission was shot on a Hollywood set, not the moon.

o     All the Trouble in the Middle East is Caused by Israel. This ridiculous notion flies in the face of the enormous dysfunction roiling the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world. That Sunnis hate (and murder) Shiites and Shiites return the favor (daily bombings of market places); that Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are jostling for power; and totalitarian dictatorships are melting into anarchy, has nothing to do with Israel. The Palestinian problem could be resolved tomorrow and it would do nothing to change the rest of this mess.

o     Female Genital Mutilation. Despite all scientific evidence that female genital mutilation is harmful, dangerous, and reeks of hatred of females, Egyptians refuses to give up this practice.  A doctor, the first in Egypt to be put on trial for this practice which resulted in the death of a young girl, was found  “not guilty” and was freed to continue his monstrous practice.  To be sure, he is probably better than the older practice of letting a barber do it with a piece of broken glass. Egyptian parents believe, with no evidence for it, that without this mutilation their daughters would be “sexually voracious,” which disgrace them.

The conspiracy theories roiling the world stem from ignorance. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

674 words

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, December 18, 2014

Letters to the Editor

by Laina Farhat-Holzman

Shades of the Satanic Verses outrage! The Ayatollah Khomeini did not like this book and he put a price on the author Salman Rushdie and threatened translators (killing one in Japan) and bookstores. The world stood up to this bully and I remember going into a bookstore and whispering that I wanted 30 copies of the book for a class I was teaching. The clerk answered loudly “OK!” More people bought that book than were capable of understanding it (it really is a great work, but requires effort to get into it).  Rushdie is still alive and well, and the Ayatollah dead.

Now the North Korean dictatorship has become the next bully. Sony has produced a very silly movie that offends the North Koreans (no sense of humor) so they hacked Sony's internet, stealing private communications and records and publishing them. Our own press has done it again: publishing stolen materials, just as they did when Wikileaks and Edward Snowdon violated American government classified files and published them. Shameful and should be illegal.

When will we learn not to yield to bullies?  When will we learn not to oblige them by publishing stolen material? And when will we respond to the likes of North Korea by damaging their own internet or their electric grid? And when will Sony get some courage and release that silly movie on the internet?

Belief and Writing: It Must Be True If It Is Written Down

Laina Farhat-Holzman
December 20, 2014

Fanatics are not called “true believers” for nothing. Whether the belief is religious or political, somebody's writings are always the basis for “true belief.” Communism originally stemmed from the practices of early Christianity, but with the writings of Marx and Lenin, the basis shifted. Russian communists were fervent believers in the truth of the observations of Marx and Lenin.

The Nazis based their Aryan Superiority ideology on the 19th century anthropologist Arthur de Gobineau, who theorized that people of Aryan origins (speakers of the Indo-European language family) were a Master Race to which all others owed obedience. All sorts of pseudo sciences sprang up in defense of this dubious nonsense, including measuring skull dimensions and supposed brain power. Hitler based his entire Nazi ideology on these crackpot notions.

Christians, of course, believe in the testimony of the Gospels, the accounts of the earliest Church Fathers who told of the mission, death, and resurrection of the radical reformist rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth. This testimony (New Testament) is at the heart of Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. For the Protestant sects, the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures for Jews) is also a key document.

For Muslims, the documents are the Koran, believed to be the words of the prophet Mohammad as dictated by an angel of god; the Hadith, which contain the recollections of the wives and companions of the Prophet; and the Sharia, a compilation of Muslim law that froze in the 12th century when all discussion stopped.

It is one thing to have one's beliefs documented---providing a historic trail---but another to be incapable of exploring and criticizing the historicity of these documents. In Judaism and Christianity,
there has been an evolutionary trail of commentary and biblical analysis, a process that has changed and accumulated over the many centuries since they began. The way modern Christianity and Judaism are practiced is to accept the eternal verities of wisdom in their scriptures but not to take all the accounts as literal.

Since the birth of the scientific revolution in the 16th century and the  Enlightenment of the 18th century,  it has become difficult to interpret scripture as literal. Most Christians and Jews (with some exceptions) accept the theory of evolution as fact and the Biblical accounts of man's origins as metaphorical. This in no way denigrates their religious experiences. When modern Catholics take communion, they understand that the wafer and wine are symbolic of something else, blood and flesh. They are not compelled to believe that this is an actual transformation; yet its profundity is still there.

Islam has not had a process of scriptural criticism. There are many educated Muslims who accept modern science, but they have no way of marrying modern science to their 7th and 8th century scriptures. This lack of textual criticism has given rise to something nightmarish in our world: a literal interpretation of their religious duty to emulate the examples of their Prophet and his 7th century companions.

Most Muslims in the world today do not follow this literal path; it is estimated that only 5 percent do. But if the numbers are correct, this means that 65 million followers are fundamentalist believers. This is a stockpile of people who are willing to carry out the basic mission of Islam: to conquer the world until everyone is Muslim. This is nonsense, of course, and does more damage to the rest of the Muslim world than it does to the West, which it cannot hope to overcome.  Seventh century values cannot compete with a world in which there are increasing standards of modern rule of law.

People need to know that just because something is in print does not make it so. For the benefit of the world's Muslims, we must not tiptoe around scriptural criticism in the fear of offending. ISIS and its ilk must have their religious certainties criticized and condemned. Rational modern Muslims must take this on and transform their religion from a literal mandate to acceptance of Islam's wisdom, not its primitive history, for their practices.

675 words

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Letter to the Editor

San Francisco Chronicle

I had to laugh out loud after reading about all the countries criticizing the US for using torture! What hypocisy! Countries such as Iran and China and members of the UN General Assembly, criticizing us? At least Brazil is quiet, busy with their own torture revelations. Not  a single country in Latin America has a clean record on torture, and forget about the Muslim world,  Russia, or most of Asia.

Few other countries have ever made public an issue such as this, openly and with all sides debating it. I can think of only two, France after the disaster of their Algerian war, and South Africa in their Reconciliation Conference.  We are to be congratulated for revisiting this issue, practices used when we had just been attacked and more attacks expected. Out of this revisiting is a discussion of the utility of such practices. Torture is usually a bad idea, bad for the perpetrators and not effective in gathering intelligence. But in the context of 9/11, probably necessary.

I just hope that we do not overcorrect. Do not engage in a witch hunt to punish our security services. Also, it will be stupid to drop profiling. Terrorists are not little old ladies; they are a community of young men recognizable by their demeanor. The enemy is among us and dangerous.

Europe Rethinks Multiculturalism

Laina Farhat-Holzman
December 13, 2014

Americans, unlike Europeans, have always made room for new citizens from other countries.  Since the end of World War II, however, western European countries have been trying to counter their old patterns of bigotry by welcoming all immigrants fleeing horrors in their old countries. The governments of the UK, France, Germany, and Scandinavia have offered social services, welfare, housing, and public schooling for the newcomers.

What they have not done is to make demands on immigrants that they accept the values and behaviors of their new countries. Such demands, it was thought, assumed that their own cultures were in some way superior to that of the newcomers, a view not popular with multiculturalists. This well-intentioned policy is now facing revision---and many people hope it is not too late.

The American model has been different from that of Europe. We received hordes of refugees from the mid-19th century until World War I, refugees who were needed in the work force. The Americans who were already here certainly did not welcome people with disparate and often unpalatable cultures; every immigrant wave faced bigotry at first. However, within one generation, most of the children of these immigrants thrived and were as American as their neighbors. Immigrants took citizenship classes and worked hard to become Americans. They all learned English and few of them had any desire to return to their parents' countries. They were American.

Although some immigrant groups brought with them criminal organizations: the Italian Mafia, the Chinese Tongs, German Bunds, and Irish criminal-political networks, these were designed to evade, not replace American law. Moreover, American standards of tolerance required that people eventually adopt the values of the host country, and our immigrant populations have been integrated.

Europe's problem was that they did not have a tradition of integrating large numbers of immigrants into their age-old national identities. Even dissident Christian groups such as the Albigensians and Cathars were exterminated when they refused to accept Catholicism. Christianity throughout two millennia never considered the one small group with another religion, the Jews, as acceptable citizens. This only changed during the Reformation, when finally, some Jews were able to distinguish themselves as true German, French, or English citizens.

With the Reformation, however, came a two-century war between Catholic and Protestant states, also waged on the citizens with the wrong religion within those states. The British barred English Catholics from the full rights of citizenship until the Pope stopped persecuting Protestants in Catholic countries. This should be the model of all tolerance: reciprocity.

European countries (and America) have welcomed Muslim immigrants, both the elites who were already educated in European schools (Persians and Afghans), and those perceived to be very downtrodden economic refugees: Turkish, Somali, Indonesian, Pakistani, Iraqi, Chechen, and Palestinian. In Europe, these migrants were admitted unconditionally, with consequences of violence and lawlessness, particularly against women and children. Such groups have representatives with enough political clout to make demands on the larger culture, such as special family law, intolerance of the majority culture's mores, and excuses for religious-based violence. Why else would the British press try to call Pakistani Muslim rapists “South Asian?” Fear of being branded bigots motivates this.

Now, at last, the worm is turning. British Prime Minister David Cameron has proposed new laws that will permit seizing the passports of Britons who have traveled abroad to fight with terrorist Jihadis. They will not be readmitted and will lose their citizenship. Jihadis preaching violence in Britain will no longer be protected by British law. They will be deported.

The Dutch and Danes have finally scrapped their multicultural indulgence of Muslim migrants. They now demand that citizenship requires leaning the language, mores, and values of their hosts. France was the first European country to ban the Islamic headscarf in government institutions and the total burqa in public (insulting to women and used as disguises by criminals and terrorists).

The US and Canada have been slower to adopt such measures, which may be changing now. Calling Hassan Nidal's Islam-inspired Camp Hood massacre “workplace violence” instead of Muslim terror is outrageous political correctness.

679 words

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, December 4, 2014

Is Iran's Islamic Revolution Melting?

Laina Farhat-Holzman
December 6, 2014

The Economist had a feature article (Nov. 1) that the steam has gone out of the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution of 1979. I knew this would happen, but I have been consistently wrong in my optimistic predictions that it would have happened years ago. These new predictions from sources far and wide are giving us all new hope.

It is not exactly easy to get real information out of a buttoned-up country like Iran, but some changes have become obvious. Mosque attendance has dropped to a trickle, even in rural villages. Mothers are enrolling their little ones in private schools rather than state schools because the state schools devote unseemly time to repressing and brainwashing children with sour Shiite doctrine. Parents instead want their children to learn English and be able to paint pictures, and dance and sing as children should.

Another bit of underground defiance: there has been a spate of conversions to Christianity by young people fed up with Islamism. It is happening in Iran (clandestinely) as well as among Syrian refugees.  It also happened in Algeria in the 1990s in response to Islamic terrorism. ISIS brings it all into focus. The more oppressive the radical jihad, the more people flee Islam altogether. [Mark Durie, Feb.  13, 2014.]

More serious problems beset the Islamic Republic of Iran as well. Drug addiction has become a real problem, so real that the Iranians themselves say that 93 percent of their criminal executions are for drug trafficking. When the European Union protested these draconian punishments, a senior official snapped that perhaps they would prefer that Iran send these druggies directly to Europe.

The UN report of October 23 noted that at least 852 people were reportedly executed between July 2013 and June 2014, evidently an increase over previous years.

One more surprise made it into the international press: Reuters has done a six-month investigation concluding that Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei controls a business empire worth $95 billion, an income larger than the value of Iran's annual petroleum exports.  Funds controlled by a shadowy organization called Setad holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry. This is a lot of money in a country strangled by western sanctions. How much of this news is getting into public rumor mills and how do Iranians feel about that?

CNN's rambling foodie Anthony Bourdain visited Iran a couple of months ago and was “blown away” by how friendly all the Iranians he met were ---even total strangers in the street who seemed to know that he was there to do a food program. It is a given in Iran that the enemy of their enemy must be their friend. The enemy is their own government and the friend is the US.

Bourdain discovered what I have understood for a long time: that Iran is much more emotionally connected to their Imperial past of great, civilized empires than to their Islamic identity, which has always been an uncomfortable fit. Their food is elegant, sophisticated, and has enormously influenced Ottoman Turkish, Moroccan, Spanish, and North Indian foods.

One constantly simmering issue in Iran today is that of women, who were well on the way toward joining modern European standards when the Revolution put everything into reverse. Being forced back into Muslim coverup has long been resented by women and has been defied, even at the cost of a jailhouse beating and fines. Head and body covers are growing smaller and less is covered. Pictures in the streets of Tehran and other big cities will testify to this.

Cosmetics, once banned, now bloom, as do nose bandages proudly worn by beauties (male and female) who want “nice” noses. Apparently this springtime of Persian vanity has its opponents, thugs who have emulated the Pakistanis by throwing acid in the faces of women who offend them. But in Iran, this has been met by public outrage and even the clerics are angry.

Iran's stranglehold by revolutionary Islam is in meltdown. The radicals won't go down without a fight, but they will lose.


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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Laina At the Movies

By Laina Farhat-Holzman
November 2014

Big Hero 6
I am a great fan of Japanese cartoons such as Swept Away, not only for their graphic beauty, detailed visions of the real Japan, but also because of the ultimate morality of the stories. They are often about children, children who must overcome difficulties and grow into something more admirable.

The great surprise for me was that Big Hero 6 looked and felt more like a Japanese cartoon than a work of the Disney studios. The story takes place some time in the future in a city called San Fransokyo, a wonderful combination of both. Two young men, one a 14 year old and his brother Tadashi in college (Nerd School) live with their aunt because they were orphaned when Hiro (the younger) was only three.

He is a far-too-bright youngster bored by school and is well into delinquency gambling in bot fights (microbots instead of cocks) with very rough company. His brother invites him to his university lab where he meets Tadashi's friends, a motley multi-race bunch of nerds. Tadashi shows his brother his latest invention: Baymax, a robot healthcare nurse. Baymax is an endearing creation, looking like a giant marshmallow. I recall how well robots like this have already been accepted by Japanese elderly in nursing homes. Baymax is absolutely endearing, bustling around taking temperatures, asking on a scale of one to ten how much it hurts, and providing remedies and, when needed, hugs.

The rest of the story takes a darker but fascinating turn with a confrontation with scientific evil in the hands of an unsavory scientist. Young Hiro and his companions become the Big Hero 6 superheros enlisting a transformed Baymax into a multi-purpose giant warrior (with armor to hold in his fluffy stomach).

This is a winner!  You will not waste your time seeing this---and if you are lucky, a bonus short cartoon about a puppy who eats everything---except green stuff (vegetables) until he learns that a sprig of parsley can bring two lovers back together and they can create a new source of doggy food: a baby who loves throwing meatballs on the floor.

This epic science fiction film has been eagerly seen by Trekies who are fascinated by the idea of worm holes in space (a theoretical notion that space and time can be bent so that time travelers are able to travel faster than light to regions in the cosmos otherwise unreachable in a human lifespan.

It is also part of the popular catastrophe movies in which the earth, for one reason or another, has become unlivable.  If humans are to survive, they must find another suitable planet.

My movie buddies and I were transfixed during this three hour film, not moving a muscle! That says something for its entertainment value. I did not worry about the flaws in the film until I returned home and had time to think about  them.

The movie, directed by Christopher Nolan, starred the always wonderful Mathiew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine, all of them engaged in a secret NASA program to find another home for their dying planet.

The earth, as shown in this film, no longer had rain (impossible) and year by year crops were dying, leaving the world in danger of starvation. NASA had long been defunded by the government because the taxpayers thought raising food was far more important than space travel. McConaughey, a former astronaut and now a farmer, widowed and father of a young daughter and son, has been summoned to a parent-teacher meeting where the teacher complains about his daughter's fixation on space travel, a silly notion, according to the teacher. She claims to know that the Apollo Program that took us to the moon was a propaganda stunt that was designed on a sound stage to fool the Russians during the cold war. This gave me a shudder as I recall all the idiots with conspiracy theories about 9/11.

He had also been summoned by the people in the secret NASA program, not defunded at all (phew!).

The rest of the film takes us on an incredible space journey and its consequences for humanity. Very exciting stuff. What makes this movie fascinating is how earthly religious symbolism is embraced by this space venture. The spacecraft is called Lazarus (the man brought back from death by Jesus); there are twelve astronauts, representing the 12 apostles who are ready to sacrifice their lives for the future. And there is timeless and trans-space love.

But now my complaints.  Just keep in mind that if the world were really to wind up without rainfall, and every day was punctuated by Dustbowl-size dust storms, the people would not have gas for their cars (oil does not descend from the heavens) and starvation would have caused all law and order to break down.

As for wormholes, I did hear an astrophysicist explain the theory but it is just a theory. We probably would not need a wormhole if we wanted to move to another planet.  We could probably do something with Mars.

Despite all these afterthoughts, the movie is fun, exciting, and is a moving elegy on human love. Do go see it.

Jon Stewart has endeared himself for me with the production of this marvelous, truthful movie. For a change, this left-leaning intellectual (and comedian) is not trying to tip-toe around calling militant and fanatical Islam a “religion of peace.” We see Iran in this film as a deeply divided country in which the pious Shiites with cynical authoritarian leadership are in control and a huge youth bulge is simmering in rebellion.

In 2009, the London-based Iranian-Canadian journalist, Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal), happened to be in Iran to cover its presidential election. He had gone many times before, working for the BBC with no trouble. But this time, he jokingly filmed an interview intended for the satirical news show that Jon Stewart produces. Then, the election took place and it was obvious that it was completely bogus. Ayatollah Khamenei announced the outcome before the ballots had even been counted, which outraged the young voters.

They poured into the streets demanding that their votes be counted, and were met by real bullets and the next day mass arrests. Bahari, usually very careful about what he did in Iran, was so outraged himself that he filmed the carnage and sent the film to the BBC.

The next day he was arrested while staying at his mother's home and hauled off for 118 in the notorious Evin Prison where he was brutally interrogated and tortured. His interrogator was a type I once knew well in Iran: pious, stupid, and brutal---a type used around the world as foot soldiers in dictatorships.

I have met another innocent person jailed on a trip to Iran-Haleh Esfandiari, a woman scholar at a Washington think tank. Her account is much like his: interrogated by a stupid man intent on getting a confession of spying from the hapless prisoner in solitary confinement.  In both cases, international outrage ultimately got them released.

What was particularly noticed by the authorities about Bahari was his family: his communist father imprisoned by the Shah's government in 1952 (where he died) and then his sister, a popular singer, imprisoned under the Islamic Republic, who also died in prison. This undoubtedly made Bahari even more suspect by the Islamist government.

The interrogator, who covered up his own and his unfortunate prisoner's stink with rosewater perfume, was marvelously played by Kim Bodnia. He was both brutal, ignorant, and at the same time pathetic. Bahari never turned him into a monster but saw him as he was, a cog in the machinery.

Good for Jon Stewart!  What fun that the Iranian government has bitterly complained that this film is a propaganda piece funded by Zionists and the CIA. Yes indeed.  Once, not a sparrow could fall from a tree that was not a plot by the British. Now it is the Israelis and the CIA. Happily, time is not on the side of the very ageing Shiite government.  Two-thirds of the population is under 30.

The Theory of Everything
I went to see this film reluctantly, not enjoying being depressed. It is a British biographical romantic film based on the memoir of the ex-wife of Stephen Hawking, a remarkable man who not only survived an illness (ALS) that generally kills within two years of onset, but still lives well into his 70s, and continues as a much honored theoretical physicist.

His wife, Jane, married him even knowing that they might only have two years together. Little did she know that she would have three children with him, and bear full responsibility for caring for a totally immobile man for decades. Even when he nearly died from pneumonia and the doctor recommended letting him quietly die, she refused and and he survived, now with no ability to speak or swallow.

Because of his great fame as author of books that sold in the millions (books that most people, myself included, could not understand), Jane was able to afford help with his care and secure a state-of-the-art device that could speak for him.

Eddie Redmayne's performance as Stephen was astonishing, and must have been physically exhausting.  Felicity Jones played Jane, a woman with stubborn faith and amazing self-sacrifice.

Although this film is being sold to us as a romance, I found it painful. But that might not be the case for you.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Classical Geopolitics in Brazil

by Bertil Haggman

The German geographer Friedrich Ratzel in his book Politische Geographie (1897) developed a number of concepts of space, that interested both the founder of geopolitics, Swedish Professor Rudolf Kjellén, and Sir Halford Mackinder of Great Britain. The latter’s central term was heartland, more or less Russia (or later the Soviet Union), although the more exact area of the heartland was in Siberia. Russia (and later the Soviet Union) was a land power that threatened British sea power. Mackinder introduced factors such as communications, populations and industrialization.

The American Admiral Alfred T. Mahan was a geopolitician before the term was introduced in 1899 by Kjellén. Mahan’s thesis was broadly that the sea power could maintain control through a number of naval bases around the Eurasian heartland.

Mackinder’s geopolitical theories during the post-Second World War era had a decisive influence on world politics. The Soviet Union threatened the Western maritime alliance created by the United States, NATO being the military arm of that alliance. This alliance used containment to stop the land power Soviet Union from controlling the Eurasian rimland. Moscow had  after World War II replaced Nazi Berlin as the main threat to the sea alliance. The basic struggle in global politics is land power against sea power. This contradiction will continue to play a major role in world politics also in the 21st century.

Definitions of geopolitics abound. One that takes into account the political side of the term is Professor Phillip Kelly 1): geopolitics is the impact of geographic factors on a country’s foreign policy. Several South American geopolitical experts have presented their own definitions.

Geopolitica brasileira had two founders, Everardo Backheuser and Carlos Delgado de Carvalho. The former was greatly influenced by the Swedish father of geopolitics, Rudolf Kjellen. Backheuser focused on southern Brazil, border disputes with neighboring countries and the formation of Amazonia.

The large land mass of Brazil was secured already during the colonial period. Between 1854 and 1907 the territory was further enlarged in settlements of territorial disputes with Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and French Guiana.

After World War II geopolitical theorists of the Escola Superior de Guerra (ESG) came to play an important role in developing the theory of Brazilian geopolitics. Leading names were Carlos Delgado de Carvalho and General Golbery de Couto e Silva. With Carlos de Meira Mattos General Couto e Silva based their projections on the large size of the country. Important was also Brazil’s support for the Western alliance in the struggle against international communism. To strengthen Brazil quick integration of Amazonia had to be supported.

Building the infrastructure was crucial. This included roads in the interior and as well as airfields. Brazil’s strong position in South America today would not have been possible without the development during the 1960s and 1970s.

Couto e Silva in 1964 presented his views on how to best integrate and develop Amazonia:

- to articulate the ecumenical basis of the continent-wide projection of Brazil. The Northeast and the South would have to be connected to the center.
- it would be important to colonize the Northwest to integrate it with the rest of the country.
- the new frontier population would hold the frontier following the axis of the Amazon River.

Brazilian geopoliticians have also expressed an interest in Antarctica. During the government of Jose Sarney Brazil promoted the creation of a South Atlantic Zone of Peace and Co-operation (SAZOPC).

Some Thoughts on Ferguson

Laina Farhat-Holzman

From the beginning of this terrible incident, I saw a few other things not really mentioned in the journalistic frenzy that was heading for a lynching of a cop; this is very popular at the moment---that every time a cop shoots someone, particularly if the cop is white and the victim a Black "youth," the verdict comes in even before the investigation. The police are always guilty.

Are there some racist cops?  Absolutely.  But does anyone consider how much police forces have been integrated?  Would a Black officer really behave differently under the same circumstances?

Let's look at inner cities, or suburbs such as Ferguson. Black communities live there, but most of the educated Black community (professionals, pastors, doctors, lawyers) have been integrated into the White communities.  What does this leave behind:  unemployed and unemployable young men who are unhappy, resentful, and with energy to burn. Michael Brown was one of these.  And despite all the claims of sainthood, he was a big kid who felt entitled to walk into a store, push aside the little clerk, and walk out with a box of cigars.

Is this an offense deserving of a police shooting, of course not. But saying that his actions did not matter is also not deserved. He was victimizing his own community because he could. And there is plenty of evidence that he took on the cop.

Now to the incident that resulted in his death: we have heard much about Black parents giving their adolescent sons “the talk.” They are giving them the painful truth that they will be profiled, stopped by police, and if they want to live, how to behave. Michael Brown does not seem to have heard that talk.

When the police tell someone to stop, they must do so! When they say show your hands, they must do so (because when they do not, police get killed---an event not much publicized in today's press).

From the standpoint of the police, which it is not popular to discuss, they work in some terrible neighborhoods and risk their necks every day. Good people live in those terrible neighborhood and they are preyed upon by young men with a sense of entitlement and the values of gansta rap. Police are summoned on calls and find instead ambushes and death. Criminals grapple with police and grab their guns (two police in my town were murdered this way when they answered a domestic violence call). An enormous prisoner while in court managed to grab an officer's gun and left with a hostage.

I want to see unemployed, unemployable young men have other options than gangs. Police in inner cities (New York, elsewhere) are trying to address this in boys' clubs, athletic activities, and after school classes. It can be done. They are working on community policing, as has worked in Los Angeles.

But I also want to see parents teaching their young people to dress decently, clean up their foul-mouthed language, and not to think they can take on a cop. They are being profiled because that is where the crime is.  When the crime is no longer there, the police will not be either.

Last note:  wait to get all the information and don't be swayed by academics, Black Power groups, or the rest of the group-think on Facebook. It is chic to be anti-American because of “how badly Blacks are treated,” but smarter to recognize the complexity of this problem.

The Europeans have addressed their criminal inner cities a different way: they are no-go-zones, in which criminal Muslim gangs terrorize the residents. That is not an answer.

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.

675 words
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.

672 words

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.

685 words

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.

683 words
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 clichéd. 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.)

677 words

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

Evy Johanne Haland - Rituals of Death and Dying in Modern and Ancient Greece: Writing History from a Female Perspective.

a new book that might be of interest to Civilitas subscribers (and especially for the theme of the next ISCSC-conference):

Rituals of Death and Dying in Modern and Ancient Greece: Writing History from a Female Perspective. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014, see

All the best,
Evy Johanne Håland

See also:

Who's Counting?

Laina Farhat-Holzman
October 18, 2014

One issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, August 23, 2014, was representative of what is going on globally. “Hamas kills 18 suspected spies in Gaza;” “Shiite gunmen kill 70 in attack on Sunni mosque;” “Nation mourns Flight 17 victims (295 of them); “Civil War deaths top 191,000 after 3 years of conflict in Syria;” “Ebola outbreak grows nationally with two new cases” (2,615 cases and 1,427 deaths reported). There is a horrific death toll in South Sudan, where ethnic tribal hatreds are killing a hoped for the new republic. Nobody is protesting Sudan's still-ongoing slaughter of the people of Darfur, who, although Muslim, are black.

The government of the Ukraine is desperately trying to keep their country together as Russia works to split and destroy Ukraine's independence. In this defensive war, 2,000 civilians were killed in just two days. Tunisia is also arresting (and probably executing) at least 1,000 people as Tunisia tries to save itself from falling in the hands of ISIS. Unfortunately, the press and naïve fundraisers are fixated on Gaza.

Numbers give us the feeling that we are getting facts, but this is not always the case. When you learn that 295 people were on board the Malaysian plane shot down by Russian agents, you can believe that. But for any figures from the lesser-developed world, be skeptical. Nobody in Muslim countries takes a census; it is culturally lethal to do so. Numbers coming out of Gaza are particularly suspect.

There are no demonstrations in the US or Europe by people outraged by these other horrors, but the rent-a-mobs are always available to demonstrate against Israel and, better yet, Jews, who are told to “go to the ovens.” Santa Cruz (my local metropolis) is infamous for its counterculture enthusiasms. You can always find demonstrators willing to go forth for causes abhored by the majority of grownups in the county. During both Gulf Wars, these intrepid demonstrators marched with banners supporting Saddam Hussein.  Today, they march in support of Gaza, outraged by Israel's self-defense. That Gaza lobbed thousands of missiles hidden in mosques and schools was fine with them. If Gaza were an innocent victim, why did it beat and expel reporters who found otherwise?

Nihad Awad, spokesman for CAIR, the American propaganda wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, insists that “Israel is the biggest threat to world peace and security.” This is the height of cynicism. Israel does what we would do if Mexico were lobbing missiles into San Diego. Militant Islam is a bigger problem.

Malaysia has arrested 19 ISIS sympathizers planning to attack nightclubs and bars in Kuala Lumpur. Indonesia has raided ISIS where thugs were planning major mayhem. Thousands of jihadists around the world have sworn allegiance to ISIS. The Philippines are threatened by ISIS recruits trying to join up with the terrorists already there. Spain and Morocco have arrested nine men suspected of recruiting jihadists to join ISIS. Jordan faces 6,000 members of a group that could become a fifth column within the country. Arrests are in process.

The US is well aware of these dangers and is watching who comes and goes from the war zones in the Middle East. On August 22, the FBI arrested Donald Ray Morgan at Kennedy Airport on gun charges, but then interrogated him and found much more serious activities going on. One wonders how much Islamists will benefit from converting such dim bulbs.

Morgan spent 8 months in Lebanon where his ex-wife lives. His twitters caught the Fed's attention. This fool called himself “Abu Omar al Amreeki” (“Amreeki” being “American”) and asked Allah for martyrdom. Allah has not yet obliged.  In April, a painfully stupid Colorado woman converted to Islam, but was arrested before she could travel to Syria to marry a fighter she had met online. We saved her from herself.

Federal police have estimated that at least 100 Americans could be fighting along with the ISIS in Syria.  With luck, none of them will live long enough to spawn more fools. Demonstrators need to rethink their focus and learn to count.

678 words

Law or Man's Law.  You may contact her at or  

Friday, October 10, 2014

What Makes a British Muslim An Executioner?

Laina Farhat-Holzman
October 11, 2014

Are radicalized Muslim youth more dangerous to Europe than to the United States? It is far easier for immigrants to be absorbed in the US, a country created by immigration from its onset, than in Europe. But even in Europe, where immigrants benefit from generous welfare and possible absorption, many of their children are rejecting these values. Why?

The children of Muslim immigrants are becoming radicalized, some of them in groups and others as lone wolves. What they all have in common is that they detest and reject the very values that made the first generations prosper; they turn instead to literalist interpretations of Islam.

The Boston Marathon attack by a pair of Chechen brothers who had received nothing but kindness and advantages in their adopted country, demonstrated such rejection.  One was in college and the other did well in his chosen sport, wrestling, and had a lovely wife willing to convert for him.  Why did these two choose to indiscriminately murder fellow citizens during a marathon? And why should an Army psychiatrist, Hassan Nidal, the beneficiary of education and rank, turn on his country and fellow soldiers and commit mass murder?

A suggestion comes from an excellent historian of the world of Islam, Raymond Ibrahim, in the April 16 FrontPage Magazine, whose article says that the very elements that make up western society are transformed when put into the context of Islam. Human freedom, human dignity, and universal justice, when put in an Islamic framework, give us very different values: Muslim Freedom, Muslim dignity, and Muslim justice, none of them having any relationship to freedom, dignity, or justice. They only justify “radicalization.”

We value rule of law, they want their law, Sharia. We value democracy, they value theocracy and Islamic dictatorship. We value dignity and pride for all, but they value only their kind of Muslim pride. We value gender equality; they find women abominable. Autonomy and personal freedom of choice are used by them as the right to “choose” jihad and get away with it.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said that “the threat of terrorism has changed…to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens---raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they  were born.” Except in the case of the blue-collar-class Somalis in Minnesota who have been lured into suicidal adventures in Yemen, the majority of American wanabe jihadis have been educated and were economically successful. So were all the 9/11 terrorists. Poverty is not the issue.

Another explanation for the radicalization of the second generation is the structure of pious Muslim families: dictatorship from the top. Second-generation young men (and girls) are smothered by this, and very bored. A jihadi adventure is a way out.  In Europe this is particularly so, and thousands have joined jihadis in Syria, and if they don’t die, they will return home trained for mayhem. We had better worry about this too. One British Muslim treated the world to a decapitation of three hostages. How does one learn that in England?

Fear of “offending” Muslims muzzles the British press, an example of which was the Rotherham child abuse arrests (1,400 children trafficked), manned almost exclusively by British Pakistanis. The thugs running this horror were motivated initially by disdain for British teenage girls (whores anyway, they said). Now authorities must determine if this enterprise was also funding ISIL, already funded by other criminal activities. The intimidated press reluctantly identified these monsters as “Asians,” fearful of saying Pakistani Muslims. But other “Asians,” Indians and Bangladeshis, have protested this designation since they are not involved.

Our great illusion is that by exposing the Muslims to our freedoms, democracy, and economic benefits, they will gradually give up their hostility to the West. The fever roiling Islam today has not yet run its course. They are not underdogs whom we must not “insult,” as the naive politically correct imagine. They are making a last ditch effort to resurrect a brutal, violent, medieval ideology.

682 words

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 1, 2014

Reception of Macro-History in Sweden


Research Paper No. 1996


Bertil Haggman



Center for Research on Geopolitics (CRG), SWEDEN.
Director: Mr. Bertil Haggman, LL.M., author. E-mail:


My personal view was that macro-historian Oswald Spengler did not have a very positive response in Sweden if any. This was partly based on the fact that his great work The Decline of the West was not translated into Swedish until 1996.

Now at last we know better. James Cavallie, author and former with the Swedish National Archive, has documented the Spengler reception in Sweden in a very detailed book, Spengler i Sverige – Den svenska reception av Oswald Spenglers teser om världshistorien och Västerlandets undergång (Spengler in Sweden – The Swedish Reception of Oswald Spengler’s Theories on World History and the Decline of the West), Stockholm: Hjalmarson & Hoegberg, 2009, 304 pages). Cavallie has extended his presentation to the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland and it covers the period from the 1920s to the present day. The author shows that a large number of leading Swedish cultural personalities have published about the German macro-historian. He has even had some influence on Swedish fictional works and on Swedish architectural theory.

Another recently published book by Per Landin, an author and liberal journalist also partly deals with Spengler in Dietrich Eckharts onda oega – essaeer (The Evil Eye of Dietrich Eckhart – Essays), Stockholm, Atlantis, 2009, 228 pages. In typical liberal fashion he assures the readers that conservatism presently is looked upon as reactionary. Maybe so in Landin’s own liberal circles in Sweden. In the new book Landin deals with several conservatives in what in Gerany is labelled as “revolutionary conservatives” in the Weimar Republic. Spengler was of course never a part of  “revolutionary conservatism”. He was a pessimistic individualist and Landin’s view of Spengler is not only negative. The author admits that it is hard to classify the German macro-historian. There is a certain connection to Nazism, according to Landin (although he does not go deeper than that. Spengler does not belong to any political ideology.

Spengler's Baltic Journey

It had been a hectic year for Oswald Spengler. In February 1924 he had published "Politische Pflichten der deutschen Jugend" and in May "Neubau des Deutschen Reiches". In the beginning of October he lectured at the Orientalist Conference in Munich. Then also in October he published "Altasien" and "Nietzsche und sein Jahrhundert", a lecture at the Nietzsche Archive at the 80th birthday of the philosopher. These were only a few of his activities that year. Already before Spengler’s visit to Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia in 1924 there had been a number of reviews of his work The Decline of the West.

When he undertook the Baltic journey he probably wanted to continue to Russia but was prevented from that by erupting violence there.

The notes underneath are from Spengler's own hand on cards preserved at the Spengler Archive now at the Bavarian State Library from a visit of mine in Munich. The English translation from German is mine.

" 27.10.1924

Early Berlin



10.29 in the evening arrival after an enjoyable see journey.


Lecture: [d.] The Origin of the Great Cultures. (Academic Society) "German-Swedish Academic Union." Introduction by Professor E.A. Kock.


Lecture: The History of Language in the History of the Development of Human Life (?) (Philosophical Society)

In connection discussion: Nilsson, (?), Larsson, Ljungdahl, (?).



Postcard to me via Halle and Berlin (?)
Lectures in Lund.



Lecture at the "Aesthetic Society" with the couple Cornell (?), Dr. Stavenow and Dr. Mannheimer.

Photographed (newspaper).


Back at the end of November.


Interview with Svenska Dagbladet.


Lecture on peoples, spaces and languages.

In the evening with Sundwalls ?

Newspaper of 10.11.1924



Arrived in the evening from Aabo. Rommen. Gave interview.



Lecture "How the Great Cultures Originated".


Received postcard.

On 15th crossing to Reval.

Lecture at the Finnish-German Society about the Fate of the Cultures of Antiquity. Afterwards



Last lecture: Races, Peoples, Languages in the Great Hall of the university


Reval. Car journey into "the interior of the country"


"Tomorrow Riga"



Received Postcard.


Trotzki is deposed


Communist coup in Reval, Estonia. General Laidoner given martial law powers. Executions. 17 Dec. new cabinet.




In February-March 1925  Spengler travelled to Italy.

My research in the list of names of the Spengler Archive has produced indications that Spengler exchanged letters with a few Scandinavians:

Knut Hamsun

Sven Hedin

Martin Persson Nilsson

Johann Sundwall

Cavallie describes Spengler’s Swedish and Finnish lecture tour in great detail and points out that the Baltic tour was the last lecture tour of the German macro-historian outside Germany. Later tours to Argentina and Spain were cancelled.

In a short concluding remark Cavallie points to Francis Fukuyama and Samuel P. Huntington (who recently passed away) as possible modern successors of Spengler and Arnold Toynbee (who is also treated in a fair way in “Spengler in Sweden”. Fukuyama claimed that the questions had been solved with the collapse of the Soviet empire and the free enterprise had been victorious. There were no greater problems in the world unsolved. What Cavallie does not say is that Fukuyama could well be correct. The present onslaught on the West by islamofascism could well be a rearguard fight of reaction and autocratic extremists in the Arab world. If the creation of market economies in Afghanistan and Iraq are successful they could well be further steps of global liberty and democracy. In the long run American policies between 2009 and 2012 could just be a short term pause in the dominating ongoing American that started with Wilsonianism after the First World War.

On Huntington Cavallie is equally careful in his remarks. He notes that  Huntington believed that after the collapse of the Soviet tyranny there will be new tensions and conflicts this time between the seven or eight civilizations described by the American professor. The somewhat pessimistic view of Huntington was that the influence of the West will decline. Perhaps those views makes for a Spengler Redivivus in America. Unfortunately we will not be provided with more visionary views from the American Spengler. He passed away at 81 in December 2008.  Huntington was of course correct when he wrote about the coming new phase of world history. The question is if the future clash between America and China will be a clash between two civilizations. There is much evidence today that there is a separate American civilization that in many respects has surpassed European civilization. The coming clash will more likely be between American civilization as the hegemon of the West against a communist regime in Peking that desperately clings to power and uses nationalism as a tool. The conflict has already begun to heat up. In March 2009 China called for a new global currency to replace the dollar. In late March 2009 a new Chinese book, Unhappy China, singled out the United States for special scorn and called for Chinese strengthening of reliance on technology and innovation as well as bolstering the military.

Moeller van den Bruck and Macro-history

The works on the Weimar Era German conservative Moeller van den Bruck (1876 - 1925) have generally taken little notice of his interest in the philosophy of history. He did not believe in the decline of the West and thought it necessary to refute Oswald Spengler in his historical-philosophical works. It was important, he believed, to popularize a "metaphysics of reality", which implied synthesis of the main traditions of western philosophy. Van den Bruck was a nationalist and therefore primarily saw the different peoples as the agents of history.

Landin in his Dietrich Eckart’s Evil Eye devotes an essay to van den Bruck but concentrates on the Weimar author’s creation of the term The Third Reich, which appropriated by the Nazis. They later, however, found out that the author in no way represented Nazi views on history. Already in 1922 he had taken a stand against Hitler. The Nazis took their time to discover the real van den Bruck. As late as 1933 he was still described as the Prophet of the Third Reich. After a few months, however, Bruck’s books on Russia were forbidden and confiscated.

In Das Recht der jungen Völker (1919) van den Bruck established a new outline of history. It was not only a struggle between young and old peoples. There was also a spiral movement without end. Van den Bruck based his new model on older ones. A source was Geschichte der Farbenlehre by Goethe, who also claimed that there was a spiral development in world history. But the most important influence was that of the German historian Kurt Breysig.

The rotation of world history resulted in geopolitical changes. Van den Bruck's model also provided indications of migration of history northwards, which gave it a spatial, geopolitical essence. Later, however, van den Bruck expressed the belief of migration toward the east (in which he differed from a general myth of history that civilization had from Babylon migrated in a westerly direction, eventually to America). But the view of the easterly direction had taken root among 'conservative revolutionaries' in Germany after World War I. It was a pretty common understanding among them that after the Russian revolution the center of gravity of world history would be placed in the European east. In the coming decades development would be based on what was happening in the western part of this area (Germany was after World War I still a country to a great extent based on its eastern territories: Pommerania, Brandenburg, Silesia and East Prussia).

The rotation had gained speed and the south had already joined the west as periphery. The change was turning into revolution. In the pessimistic climate of Weimar Germany  it was important to the conservatives to instill confidence in the future. Thus Germans and Russians were described as "young peoples" of the future. The Germans had a great will to life. This would be important in the coming era of the world revolution. Overpopulation was working to the advantage of Germany and would strengthen her during the 20th century. The decline of the West was not Germany's decline. The future was determined by the "young peoples" which were throwing off their shackles. Thus the Germans were described in reality to be in the same category as the colonial peoples.


It has been claimed that Oswald Spengler’s great macro-historical work, The Decline of the West  caused a stir similar to that caused by Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. The great men were about the same age when rising to fame (Spengler was born 1880 and Einstein 1879). Both stood for changes of the way the world was viewed. Spengler’s book in Germany has been published in more than a quarter million copies and is widely translated.

Spengler in his great work did not set out to describe the death of Western culture. Instead the work is Spengler’s views on the end phase of our culture (rising around the year 1000 AD) as it turns into civilization. Neither is it a prophecy of the death of mankind. Man will live on without the West. What was shocking for the readers in 1918, most of them believing that the 19th and 20th centuries represented the height of development, was that someone could describe the West as being in a final phase.

Dr. John Farrenkopf, an American scholar, has recently provided the academic community and all interested in Spengler’s work with Prophet of Decline: Spengler on World Politics and History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001, 304 pages). After the attacks of Muslim terrorists of al Quaeda on the United States on September 11, 2001, this book is of increasing value, although the manuscript was completed and the book published before the attacks. Muslim terrorist actions and views are a threat to the present state system and ultimately the West.

Spengler is timely in 2009, both internationally and in Sweden, and especially Cavallie has provided a fine overview of the legacy of Spengler in the one Scandinavian country that has treated him seriously.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Will Islam Address Its Internal Crisis?

Laina Farhat-Holzman
September 27, 2014

Muslims have lived so long with governments they cannot trust that the rumor mill serves as their source of information. Conspiracy theories are the favorite explanations for all the horrors in the world. If you cannot blame Allah, you must find someone you can blame.

The latest conspiracy theory comes out of the Netherlands, where a Muslim woman, Yasmina Haifi, who works in the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, has given us the following: “The Islamic State isn't Islamic at all. Actually, it's a Jewish plot.” []. She tweets that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is an agent of Mossad and that the conspiracy was created to make Islam look bad. If I were Dutch, I would ask: Who hired this dim bulb?

Mossad does not have to make Islam look bad. The religion is in crisis, and the reasons for looking bad include decapitating captives and enslaving captive women and children. The “Islamic State (IS)” is just one more faction attracting bored and unemployable young men looking for adventure and being reassured that the violence they are expected to carry out is sanctified by the very origins of their religion.

The other two Westerm world religions have changed over time, evolving from primitive tribalism to religions that promote ethical behavior and rule of civil law (Judaism and Christianity). These religions have experienced reformations and transformations from their darker periods. Islam has not so benefited. It began the process of evolving during the first centuries of its existence with the emergence of many “schools” representing different interpretations of the religion. It started acquiring a legal structure and a way of incorporating methods and ideas from non-Muslims: Jews, Nestorian Christians, Persian Zoroastrians, and even Central Asian Buddhists. These contributors produced the brief “golden age” so boasted about by Muslims today.

Islam's linear evolution was shut down in the 13th century by Mongol invasions from the East and from savage Muslim invasions of Spain by Africa fanatics. Baghdad was burnt down and Spain's Islalmic golden age went dark. These events sent Islam into a five-century sleep in which their once dominant civilization became backwaters ripe for European colonization.

An unacknowleged benefit of European colonization of Muslim lands was an awakening. Some wanted to join the process of modernization that would once more free Muslim talent. Unfortunately, they chose instead the fascist model and now the tribal model. Resentment, revenge, savage violence, and that most hot-button issue of all, the emancipation of women, have created an Islamic monster that cannot ultimately survive.

The Dutch Muslim woman quoted above cannot bear to think her religion can be as terrible as ISIS practices it, yet ISIS is accurately reproducing the deeds of the Prophet Mohammad and his followers, santified, they say, by Allah. The Koran tells us that the Prophet urged followers to “smite the necks of unbelievers” and “cut off their fingertips” (supposedly to prevent their enemies from holding weapons, but unneccessary if they have already had their necks smitten).

The Prophet demonstrated and sanctified the methods of warfare that we are seeing today: deception (guerilla war) and giving the defeated the options of converting, paying a tax, or death. For those refusing his options, he sanctified killing all males and seizing all women and children as booty, using them as “the captors liked.” He also expelled all non-Muslim tribes from Arabia, exactly what ISIS is doing now.

Boka Haram and ISIS are not only following those methods, but are demanding that all Muslims follow or face the consequences. Their momentary successes are giving not only the world, but the Muslim world, a chance to see what 7th century Islam looked like. Without a renaissance, this is all they will have.

The rest of the world will not wait. This is the start of a global war against what Islam has become. Good Muslims everywhere had better fight ISIS, Boka Haram, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas. If they want their religion to survive, they will have to create a modern Islam that can do more than just destroy. It is crisis time.

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