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  

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).