“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Comey Needs a Psychiatrist

'None of it makes much sense': Experts are baffled by Comey's use of a fake Russian document to skirt the DOJ

James ComeyThen-FBI Director James Comey speaks to the Intelligence and National Security Alliance Leadership Dinner in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, March 29, 2017. Cliff Owen/AP
Former FBI, CIA, and DOJ officials said they are baffled by reports that a fake Russian document affected former FBI James Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.

CNN reported Friday that Comey knew the document, a memo purporting to show collusion between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Clinton campaign, was fake. That has raised questions about why he used it as justification to skirt the Department of Justice and hold a press conference last summer in which he skewered Clinton for her "careless" use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

"In cases where there is intelligence suspected of being false, the correct procedure is to investigate," said Scott Olson, a recently retired FBI agent who ran the agency's counterintelligence operations and spent more than 20 years at the bureau.

"In this case, the parties referenced should have been interviewed as part of the investigation," Olson said. "Then, if the document was used as feared, the results of the investigation could be used to effectively rebut."

The FBI reportedly uncovered the memo last year as it was examining a trove of documents believed to have been hacked by Russia. The document, first disclosed by The New York Times in late April and described in more detail by The Washington Post last week, described an email supposedly sent by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, to an official at the billionaire George Soros' Open Society Foundations.

Wasserman Schultz supposedly described in the message how Lynch, the attorney general, had privately assured a Clinton staffer during the campaign that the Justice Department wouldn't take the email probe too far. Comey reportedly knew the information in the memo wasn't real. But he feared that the memo would cast doubt on the credibility of the FBI's investigation if it leaked after Lynch closed the probe, CNN reported.

The sequence played a part in his decision to circumvent the DOJ and hold a press conference, defending  the bureau's decision not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton for using a private server while she was secretary of state. He also called Clinton "extremely careless" for using the server, issuing a blistering assessment of the then-candidate's recklessness that many believe damaged her reputation among voters.

'None of it makes much sense'

Comey briefed lawmakers after the press conference on his decision not to recommend charges against Clinton. He told them that he had had no choice but to go around the DOJ and answer directly to reporters out of fear that the document might leak. But he did not tell lawmakers that the document was probably fake, according to CNN.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN on Sunday that Comey "never once told a member of the House or the Senate that he thought the email was fake," and would have been "incredibly incompetent" to act on a document he knew to be fraudulent.

"I can't imagine a scenario where it's OK for the FBI director to jump in the middle of an election based on a fake email generated by the Russians and not tell the Congress," Graham said.

Olson said that Comey's decision to circumvent his DOJ superiors based on the document was even more bizarre.

"The notion that the FBI needs to circumvent DOJ procedure and officials because a known false document might be used publicly to forward some political agenda makes no sense," Olson said, "and the notion that DOJ is somehow incapable of defending itself against false publicity does not withstand scrutiny."

FBI officials briefed Lynch on the existence of the document one month after Comey announced the end of the email investigation during the unprecedented press conference. Lynch said she "never communicated" with the Clinton campaign staffer in question and offered to be formally interviewed by the FBI about the matter, according to the Post.

Loretta LynchThen-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (L) delivers closing remarks to the Justice Department Summit on Violence Crime Reduction with Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates at the Washington Plaza Hotel October 7, 2015 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Amanda Renteria, the Clinton staffer with whom the false document said Lynch communicated, also told the Post that she had never spoken to Lynch. And Wasserman-Schultz said she had never heard of the Open Society Foundations official, Leonard Benardo, whom the document said she had emailed to discuss Lynch's communications with Renteria.

"The FBI is in the business of ascertaining the true facts through investigation," Olson said. "That is what should have been done. I'd love to know why it was not done."

Matthew Miller, a former Department of Justice spokesman under President Obama, agreed that Comey "absolutely should have briefed" his superiors on the existence of the document before holding the press conference, especially if he thought it was fake.

"If he already knew the document was fake, then he in no way should have relied on it to make decisions about how to handle the case, and he had an obligation to brief his superiors," Miller said on Tuesday.

"Even if it was a real document, it wouldn’t excuse him acting on his own," Miller added. "There are procedures set up for handling sensitive information like this when someone is potentially compromised, which is the best-case interpretation of his thinking. He could have briefed his direct boss, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and the two of them could have decided how to proceed."

"The bottom line is this document seems to have been an excuse to do what he always wanted to do," Miller said, "rather than an actual factor in any decision-making."

Months after ending the email investigation, Comey said he felt compelled to tell Congress that the bureau had discovered new emails that were possibly relevant to the investigation because he had already gone public with the details of the case — and given congressional testimony about it — three months earlier. Clinton has said the disclosure, which dominated media coverage in the days leading up to the election, factored heavily into her loss. 

A 'wildly successful' Russian operation 

The revelation that a tainted document — believed to have been planted by the Russians in the trove of hacked documents obtained by the FBI — influenced Comey's decisionmaking is evidence of the extent to which Russian disinformation was able to penetrate the highest levels of American law enforcement during the presidential campaign.

The weaponization of stolen documents is increasingly becoming Russian hackers' modus operandi, according to a new report from researchers at the Citizen Lab group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Public Affairs. Hackers linked to Russia have begun stealing data and tampering with it in order to achieve specific propaganda aims, the report noted, "and to seed mistrust and disinformation."

Glenn Carle, a former CIA operative who spent 23 years at the agency, said Comey's use of the document to justify a decision that may have "changed the course of US history" means Russia's election meddling was more "wildly successful" than anyone had previously imagined.

"It is common to let bogus reports from the [foreign] opposition go forward, and continue unchallenged, so as not to compromise sources and methods," Carle said. "But I dispute that the director should have treated this from the strict sources and methods protection perspective."

"In my view he should in this instance have briefed the attorney general, the president, and the Gang of Eight," Carle said, referring to a select group of lawmakers briefed on sensitive intelligence matters. "This was a policy call, a larger issue than the source and method. Historic errors on his part."

Mark Kramer, the program director for the Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, said that Comey's failure to alert the congressional committees that the document "was almost certainly a fake was "appallingly negligent."  

"He should have emphasized that at the very start," Kramer said. "By having failed to do so, he was disastrously incompetent and irresponsible."

Olson, the former FBI agent, said he believes Comey and his team "forgot that the reputation of the FBI is secondary to the FBI's responsibility."

"At the end of the day, with due respect to notions of transparency, credibility, independence and ensuring there is not even the appearance of improper conduct, what matters most is executing the role the FBI has in government," he said. "Appearances don't matter if reality, if the actual content, is wrong."

The longtime FBI agent said he still believed Comey and his advisers "were trying very hard to do the right thing."
"But they illustrated the old saying," Olson said, "that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions.'"

Kidding Ourselves in Kabul

Kabul blast: At least 80 killed & over 350 wounded in explosion in Afghan capital’s embassy district

Kabul blast: At least 80 killed & over 350 wounded in explosion in Afghan capital’s embassy district
At least 80 people have been killed and over 350 injured in a powerful car bomb blast that ripped through a diplomatic district in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, an Afghan health official has said, as cited by Reuters.

However, the Afghan Interior Ministry said 64 people were killed, according to AFP.

The death toll is likely to rise, local officials said.

The blast, which is believed to have come from a car bomb, affected the German, French, Indian, and Iranian embassies. The precise target was not immediately clear, but many embassies and government buildings are located in the same area.
The blast struck at around 8:30am local time Wednesday.

The powerful blast destroyed more than 50 vehicles in the area, Pajhwok News reports.
Most victims are thought to be civilians, including employees of a local mobile phone company, Roshan, according to TOLO News.

Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul police, said the explosion was caused by a car bomb.

"It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is," Mujahid said, as cited by Reuters.

Eyewitnesses on social media said the blast was so strong it shattered all windows in nearby buildings. Some doors were also torn off their hinges, Reuters reported.
Photos posted on Twitter showed a thick pillar of smoke rising from the site of the explosion.

It is still not clear if the German embassy was affected by the blast. A security source told Reuters there is no credible information so far claiming that members of the embassy staff were injured in the attack.

In the meantime, France’s foreign minister, Marielle de Sarnez, said the French embassy in Kabul has been damaged, but there are “no signs” at this stage indicating that there were victims among the employees.

The Indian Embassy reported damage to its facilities but no casualties.
Several journalists tweeted that their offices were damaged in the blast, including Jessica Donati, who writes for the Wall Street Journal, and the BBC’s Kabul bureau manager, Karim Haidari, who said the BBC staff were affected in the blast.
At this stage, no group has claimed responsibility for the devastating explosion, which appears to be the deadliest in the past few years. Last month, the Taliban announced the beginning of a “spring offensive,” promising to attack US-trained Afghan forces and foreign troops.

The US has 8,000 troops in Afghanistan to train Afghan forces and render support during counter-insurgency operations.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kill, Kathy Griffin

'This is vile and wrong': Kathy Griffin comes under fire after posting image of President Trump's severed head with Chelsea Clinton one of the first to lash out at comedian

  • Griffin was seen holding up the severed head for photographer Tyler Shields
  • She joked that she would have to leave the country after the shoot
  • 'This is vile and wrong. It is never funny to joke about killing a president,' said Chelsea Clinton 
  • But she did spur outrage online, with many calling for her to be arrested
  • The act was interpreted by many as a threat towards the president 
  • Griffin said she 'obviously' does not condone violence
  • She was 'mocking the mocker in chief,' she claimed on Twitter 

Published: 16:13 EDT, 30 May 2017 Updated: 19:20 EDT, 30 May 2017
Donald Trump's supporters have demanded Kathy Griffin be arrested after she was seen holding up the president's 'head' in an outrageous stunt.

Outspoken comedian Griffin was seen slowly raising Trump's head during a photoshoot with infamous photographer Tyler Shields. 

'Tyler and I are not afraid to make images that make noise,' Griffin said during the shoot, videos for which appeared on Shields' official website.

That's certainly what happened when the footage and pictures hit the web. 
A former first daughter was quick to fire back at griffin, with Chelsea Clinton writing: 'This is vile and wrong. It is never funny to joke about killing a president.'
Scroll down for video 
Heads up: Comedian Kathy Griffin sparked fury from Trump supporters on Tuesday after footage emerged of her holding up a fake severed Donald Trump head
Heads up: Comedian Kathy Griffin sparked fury from Trump supporters on Tuesday after footage emerged of her holding up a fake severed Donald Trump head

Kathy Griffin 'beheads' Trump for photo session with Tyler Shields

Griffin, an outspoken opponent of Trump who is best known for presenting the New Year's Eve countdown with Anderson Cooper on CNN, is seen holding the head, which is slathered in fake blood. 

The shocking images quickly set social media alight, with many calling for her to be locked up for supposedly 'threatening' the president. 

'This is discusting [sic] Kathy Griffin has never been funny,' said self-styled conservative paralegal NativeCA. 'This should be reported to the FBI & Twitter.'
Meanwhile, @nancygolliday said 'Parading beheading of POTUS makes @kathygriffing a terrorist and an enemy of the state. She needs to be treated as such.'

And Dr J wrote: 'You're disgusting. Honor our military but dishonor our President and Commander in Chief? You'd behead our President? Hypocrite.' 

Griffin had posted a video on Memorial Day in which she invited people to give a moment's silence for those who died fighting for America.

Donald Trump Jr also stepped up to the plate to bat for his dad, saying: 'Disgusting but not surprising.

'This is the left today. They consider this acceptable. Imagine a conservative did this to Obama as POTUS?'
Even some self-described liberals got in on the act.

'Big time Liberal here - and a Kathy Griffin fan - and I agree,' said Tanya Crosse. 'This is not ok and there is no excuse. She should immediately apologize.'

Meanwhile, Simar wrote: 'We can't knock the alt right for promoting hate speech & then support Kathy Griffin for promoting violence against the President.'  

In footage of the shoot, Griffin is seen joking that she and Shields will have to flee the country once it gets out.

'We have to move to Mexico today,' she said, 'because we're gonna go to prison. Federal prison. 

'Call your dad, apologize, then let's you [and me] go to Mexico because we're not surviving this.'

She's seen in the footage lifting the grisly 'head' out of a metal bowl, then rotating it towards the camera until it hits a spot that Shields likes.
Finally, at Shields' demand, she drops it to the ground. 
In the video Griffin says that 'Tyler and I are not afraid to do images that make noise. And also he often lights me to the point where I look about 15.
'But first I'm an artist. But really it's good lighting.' 

On Tuesday afternoon Griffin seemed to want to silence some of the 'noise' she'd been so proud of when she tweeted that she didn't condone violence.

However, that only came as the second part of a two-tweet message that began: '1/ I caption this "there was blood coming out of his eyes, blood coming out of his...wherever" Also @tylershields great Photog/film maker.'

The second tweet read: '2/ OBVIOUSLY, I do not condone ANY violence by my fans or others to anyone, ever! I'm merely mocking the Mocker in Chief.'
Shields had posted the image a few hours before with the message 'Friend text me this "I hear Tijuana is beautiful this time of year."'  
Griffin responded to the outrage with a two-part tweet, the first part of which saw her mocking the imaginary dead president
Griffin responded to the outrage with a two-part tweet, the first part of which saw her mocking the imaginary dead president
Mocker: Griffin claimed she was 'merely mocking the Mocker in Chief' in the second part of her tweet, and that she wasn't condoning violence
Mocker: Griffin claimed she was 'merely mocking the Mocker in Chief' in the second part of her tweet, and that she wasn't condoning violence

Shields has made a name for himself as a provocative photographer whose images include Lindsay Lohan as a blood-soaked vampire and a KKK member being hanged by a black man.

In 2011 he came under fire for a photo shoot with Glee star Heather Morris in which she sported a 'black eye'. Critics said that he made light of domestic abuse.
He later apologized after receiving death threats, adding: 'If you are anti-domestic abuse spread the word about it. Threatening to kill me is not going to help anything.' 
Tyler Shields is famous for taking provocative images of stars such as Lindsay Lohan, He also put this image of Griffin on his blog
Tyler Shields is famous for taking provocative images of stars such as Lindsay Lohan, He also put this image of Griffin on his blog

Griffin was emulating the beheadings seen in Game of Thrones, according to Daily Wire

The show came under fire itself in 2011, at the end of its first season, when it featured a shot of George W Bush's head on a stick.

The wax head was one of a number of severed heads placed atop a castle's wall; the producers apologized, and said that there was no political intent.

Rather, they said, they had used it because it was one of a number of pre-made heads they had lying around.

The grisly shot was edited for later airings and DVD releases.
Griffin was reportedly inspired by Game of Thrones. In 2011 the show featured the severed head of George W Bush (left); producers apologized and the shot was edited in later showings
Griffin was reportedly inspired by Game of Thrones. In 2011 the show featured the severed head of George W Bush (left); producers apologized and the shot was edited in later showings

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Taking No Prisoners

France enlists Iraqi soldiers to 'KILL French militants fighting for ISIS before they return home and carry out terror attacks' as shipment of 'Jihadi drug which makes fighters fearless' is intercepted in Paris

  • France is supplying names and photos of top French jihadists in Iraq, it is claimed
  • Information 'passed to Iraqi ground troops in the hope fanatics can be killed'
  • There are fears 'high value' targets could return to France to carry out attacks
  • Comes as illegal shipments of 'Jihadi drug' Captagon worth £1.5m is intercepted in France

Published: 10:25 EDT, 30 May 2017 Updated: 11:12 EDT, 30 May 2017
France is enlisting Iraqi soldiers to hunt down and kill French jihadists fighting for ISIS before they return home and carry out terror attacks, it has been claimed.
Special forces are reportedly supplying ground forces with names and photos of up to 30 French citizens who have fled to Iraq.

High-ranking French ISIS militants have been selected as targets amid fears they will return home to carry out atrocities, it is claimed.

It comes as a shipment of a so-called 'jihadi drug' increasingly used by ISIS fanatics was intercepted in Paris.
France is enlisting Iraqi soldiers to hunt down and kill French jihadists fighting for ISIS before they return home and carry out terror attacks, it has been claimed. File picture shows a masked Iraqi counter terrorism operative
France is enlisting Iraqi soldiers to hunt down and kill French jihadists fighting for ISIS before they return home and carry out terror attacks, it has been claimed. File picture shows a masked Iraqi counter terrorism operative
Illegal shipments (pictured) of the so-called 'Jihadi drug' Captagon worth a total of almost £1.5m have been intercepted in France for the first time
Illegal shipments (pictured) of the so-called 'Jihadi drug' Captagon worth a total of almost £1.5m have been intercepted in France for the first time

According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, French special forces have been using Iraqi soldiers to hunt down the 'high-value' targets for a number of months.

Ground units have been given photographs, alibis and location coordinates taken from surveillance drones and radio intercepts, according to the newspaper, which says its information comes from Iraqi officers as well as current and former French officials.

France's Defence Ministry has not immediately responded to requests for a comment, the Independent reports.

France has been hammered by a wave of deadly terror attacks carried out by ISIS fanatics over the last three years.

In November 2015, a team of extremists slaughtered 130 in Paris when they targeted bars, restaurants, the Stade de France and the Bataclan music festival.
The following summer, a 19 tonne cargo truck was driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, killing 86.

Last year, it was estimated that some 1,700 French citizens had fled the country to join ISIS in Iraq or Syria. Hundreds of those are believed to have been killed.
Meanwhile, illegal shipments of the so-called 'Jihadi drug' Captagon worth a total of almost £1.5m have been intercepted in France for the first time.

The euphoria-generating drug is increasingly used by ISIS terrorists as they set off on their murderous missions
The euphoria-generating drug is increasingly used by ISIS terrorists as they set off on their murderous missions

It comes as the euphoria-generating drug is increasingly used by ISIS terrorists as they set off on their murderous missions.

Details of the customs haul at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport were today made public for the first time.

Some 350,000 tablets of the amphetamine-based Captagon were first found at France's busiest airport on January 4.

Then, on February 22, another 300,000 were found - making a total of 135kgs of Captagon with a street value of £1.4million.

In both cases, the drugs were hidden within industrial steel moldings destined for Saudi Arabia, via the Czech Republic, and Turkey.
Details of the customs haul at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport were today made public for the first time
Details of the customs haul at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport were today made public for the first time
The shipment originated in Lebanon, said a customs official, adding: 'This is the first time that this drug has been seized in France.'

There have been similar seizures in other European countries this year, including Holland, where the country's first known fake Captagon laboratory was found in April.

Hundreds of thousands of the pills were discovered, along with three guns, in the premises in the town of Brunssum, and there were two arrests.

Captagon, which was invented to treat sleep disorders, keeps users awake for long periods of time, and can make them feel hugely energetic and happy.

ISIS terrorists have often spoken about taking the addictive hallucinogenic pills - hence the 'Jihadi drug' tag.

It has become particularly associated with the war in Syria, where thousands of fighters take the drug before entering battlefields.

While Captagon is a brand name for the fenethylline drug, there are also plenty of fake versions stamped with the word 'Captagon' to increase their street value.

The biggest legal consumer of Captagon is Saudi Arabia, where there is also a highly lucrative cocaine market.

The seizure in France comes as the country remains under a State of Emergency following a series of ISIS attacks across Europe.  


Angela Merkel's weekend speech stating that Europe could no longer "fully count on others"


Where exactly will you go Frau Merkel?

Ivo H. Daalder, a former U.S. envoy to NATO, told The New York Times that "this seems to be the end of an era, one in which the United States led and Europe followed." 
"Today, the United States is heading into a direction on key issues that seems diametrically opposite of where Europe is heading. Merkel's comments are an acknowledgment of that new reality," the newspaper quoted him as saying. 
Michael McFaul, who was ambassador to Russia under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, expressed dismay at the state of the key relationship.
(You can't make this stuff up)

  • Perhaps the German Chancellor can turn to the brain trust flooding her open borders
  • There is always France
  • She could always call Obama & Clinton - they're always full of good ideas
  • She could commiserate with the Greek finance minister
  • The Brits had enough of her, so no action there
All that happened as they all were standing to congratulate each other  opening the $2 billion dollar new NATO headquarters is that Trump impolitely mentioned sharing the tab as agreed. 

After that, the always cheery Merkel, looked as if Germany lost Stalingrad again.

Germany can start by dealing with the reality that it is either unwilling or unable to protect their own women from the wild and Crazy Guys from Arabistan and every African sewer rat that scurries onto the southern European shores.

Monday, May 29, 2017

After My Father Did 35 Bombing Missions Over 125 days - He Became a Pacifist - Remember the Day

409th Bomb Squadron

When European Men Were Men and Not Feminized Fops

What’s Up with Rape in Sweden?

President Donald Trump was more right than wrong about Sweden. Fox News was slightly misleading.

As you’ve heard, Trump referred to “[what happened] last night in Sweden.” On Twitter, smug critics circulated lists of anodyne events like concerts and road accidents and accused the president of inventing a terror attack. He didn’t cite a terror attack, though his words were characteristically imprecise. Two days later, as if to underscore that Trump had a point, riots erupted in a suburb of Stockholm.

As Andrew Brown of the Guardian put it, Sweden looms large in the “fantasies of the outside world.” It is, by turns, a socialist utopia, a sexually liberated Busch Gardens, or a Mad Max hell-scape, depending on your agenda.

Fox News and, more particularly, certain right-wing websites have been conjuring the “Idyllic Sweden destroyed by Muslim refugees” line, complete with “no go” zones, sharia law, and terror attacks. That’s an exaggeration, but so is the Washington Post’s take: “In 2015, when the influx of refugees and migrants to Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia was at its peak, Sweden took in the greatest number per capita. By and large, integration has been a success story there, save for incidents such as the one on Monday night.”

In fact, Sweden has been taking large numbers of refugees and immigrants for decades. They’ve accepted Balkans, Iraqis, Somalis, and many others. The Washington Post notwithstanding, there is a connection between immigration and criminality and other problems. As the Swedish economist Tino Sanandaji has noted, the employment rate for native Swedes is about 82 percent, but it’s only 58 percent for immigrants, and lower still for non-Western immigrants. Among native Swedes, the crime rate is equivalent to Iceland’s. But in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods, lawbreaking is comparable to the much higher overall rate in the U.S. (though not to the high-crime areas of U.S. cities).

Immigrants have found integration into Sweden’s homogeneous culture very difficult, partially because low-skill jobs have been disappearing as Sweden — like other countries in the developed world — de-industrializes. Though many immigrants, like Sanandaji himself, have managed the challenge, others rely on welfare-state subsidies. Joblessness and alienation have sparked riots and other antisocial behavior. At outdoor festivals such as “We Are Stockholm,” women have been groped. Public swimming pools have become venues for gangs of young immigrant men to harass women. Malm√∂ has been losing its small Jewish population, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a travel warning due to threats and attacks on Jews from Muslim immigrants.

The image of hordes of immigrants raping Swedish women, however, is, to say the least, overheated. Getting accurate statistics on rape in Sweden is difficult. On one hand, the government, in obedience to feminist diktats, has broadened the definition of rape very considerably to include many things that most Americans would not consider rape. For example, Julian Assange, for whom I have no sympathy in general, apparently ripped a condom during a consensual encounter and now hides in the Ecuadorian embassy to evade rape charges.
The number of Swedish women who say they have been the victims of sexual assault of some kind ‘in the past year’ has been rising.
On the other hand, the number of Swedish women who say they have been the victims of sexual assault of some kind “in the past year” has been rising, along with the number of women who say they have changed their habits in some way (avoiding certain areas after dark and so forth). The absolute numbers are much lower than those in the U.S., but the trend is up. Also, for those who picture blond Swedish women being preyed upon by dark-skinned foreigners, it’s important to stress that most of the women who have been victims of sexual assaults are themselves immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Tino Sanandaji cautions against the broad-brush depiction of Sweden’s immigration indigestion as a matter of Muslim influence. Some 17 percent of Swedes are foreign-born, but only 3 to 5 percent identify as Muslim. Many of the immigrants who sought refuge in Sweden from the Middle East were Maronite and Assyrian Christians. Others are atheists who were fleeing Islam. They are influenced, Sanandaji argues, more by American gangster rap and The Sopranos than by the Koran. Sweden has had only one terror attack by a Muslim extremist (who killed only himself), though that, of course, could change at any time.
Both major political parties in Sweden have minimized (even whitewashed) the burdens of being the world’s “humanitarian superpower.” The result has been the rise of the Sweden Democrats, a party whose bland name conceals a Nazi past. The party earned only 3 percent support in 2010. Today it is polling at around 18 percent.

Sweden offers many lessons, but the most critical is: Seek the truth, not a narrative.

— Mona Charen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Copyright © 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

If Gaddafi was still ruling Libya, Saddam in Iraq and Assad in Syria, there would be no 23,000 people on a UK watch list and no EU refugee crisis

To prevent another week of terror, our state must not become a vast ISIS recruiting sergeant

British Libyans and Libyan exiles who had their passports returned to fight Gaddafi were always unlikely to return as model citizens

The Independent Online
National Transitional Council fighters take part in a street battle in Sirte, Libya in the final assault on Gaddafi's hometown in 2011 Getty

The massacre in Manchester is a horrific event born out of the violence raging in a vast area stretching from Pakistan to Nigeria and Syria to South Sudan. Britain is on the outer periphery of this cauldron of war, but it would be surprising if we were not hit by sparks thrown up by these savage conflicts. They have been going on so long that they are scarcely reported, and the rest of the world behaves as if perpetual warfare was the natural state of Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, North-east Nigeria and Afghanistan.

It is inevitable that, in the wake of the slaughter in Manchester, popular attention in Britain should be focussed on the circumstances of the mass killing and on what can be done to stop it happening again. But explanations for what happened and plans to detect and neutralise a very small number of Salafi-jihadi fanatics in UK, will always lack realism unless they are devised and implemented with a broad understanding of the context in which they occur. 

It is necessary at this point to emphasise once again that explanation is not justification. It is, on the contrary, an acknowledgement that no battle – certainly not a battle to defeat al-Qaeda and Isis – can be fought and won without knowing the political, religious and military ingredients that come together to produce Salman Abedi and the shadowy Salafi-jihadi network around him.

The anarchic violence in the Middle East and North Africa is underreported and often never mentioned at all in the Western media. Butchery of civilians in Baghdad and Mogadishu has come to seem as normal and inevitable as hurricanes in the Caribbean or avalanches in the Himalayas. Over the last week, for instance, an attack by one of the militias in the Libyan capital Tripoli killed at least 28 people and wounded 130. The number is more than died in Manchester, but there were very few accounts of it. The Libyan warlords, who pay their fighters from the country’s diminished oil revenues, are thoroughly criminalised and heavily engaged in racket from kidnapping to sending sub-Saharan migrants to sea in sinking boats. But their activities are commonly ignored, as if they were operating on a separate planet.  

Manchester explosion in pictures

Britain played a central role in overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 without considering that there was nothing but such warlords remaining to replace his regime. I was in Benghazi and Tripoli at that time and could see that the rebel bands, financed by Gulf oil states and victorious only because of Nato airstrikes, would be incapable of filling the vacuum. It was also clear from an early stage that among those taking advantage of this void would be al-Qaeda and its clones.
But it is only since last Monday that people in Britain have come to realise that what happened in Libya in 2011 dramatically affects life in Britain today.

British Libyans and Libyan exiles in Britain, who saw their “control orders” lifted and their passports returned by MI5 six years ago so they could go and fight Gaddafi were never going to turn into sober citizens the day after his fall. Just as the link is undeniable between the perpetrators of 9/11 and the US and Saudi backing for Jihadis fighting the Communists in Afghanistan in the 1980s, so too is the connection between the Manchester bombing and the British Government using Salafi-jihadis from the UK to get rid of Gaddafi.

The British Government pretends that anybody making this obvious point is seeking to limit the responsibility of the killers of 9/11 and the Manchester attack. The Conservative response to Jeremy Corbyn’s common sense statement that there is an obvious link between a British foreign policy that has sought regime change in Iraq, Syria and Libya and the empowerment of al-Qaeda and Isis in these places has been dismissive and demagogic. The venom and hysteria with which Mr Corbyn is accused of letting the bombers morally off the hook has much to do with the General Election, but may also suggest a well-concealed suspicion that what he says is true. 

The Manchester bombing is part of the legacy of failed British military interventions abroad, but is this history useful in preventing such calamities as Manchester happening again? Analysis of these past mistakes is important to explain that terrorists cannot be fought and defeated while they have safe havens in countries that have no governments or central authority. Everything should be done to fill these vacuums, which means that effective counter-terrorism requires a sane foreign policy devoted to that end. 

There should be nothing mysterious about the cause and effect which led to the Manchester bombing. Yet the same mistakes have been made by Britain in Iraq in 2003, Afghanistan in 2006, Libya in 2011 and in Syria over the same period.

It is no advertisement for President Bashar al-Assad to say that any well-informed assessment of the balance of forces in Syria from 2012 onwards – and the powerful foreign allies supporting each side – showed that Assad was likely to stay in power. Fuelling the war with the expectation that he would go was unrealistic and much to the advantage of al-Qaeda, Isis and those who might target Britain.
Eliminating the bombers' safe havens is a necessity if the threat of further attacks is to be lifted. Security measures within Britain are never going to be enough because the al-Qaeda or Isis targets are the entire British population. They cannot all be protected, particularly as the means of murdering them may be car or a kitchen knife. In this sense, the bomber will always get through, though it can be made more difficult for him or her to do so. 

Better news is that the number of Salafi-jihadi networks is probably pretty small, though Isis and al-Qaeda will want to give the impression that their tentacles are everywhere. The purpose of terrorism is, after all, to create pervasive fear. 
Experience in Europe over the last three years suggests that the number of cells are limited but that committed Jihadis can be sent from Libya, Iraq or Syria to energise and organise local sympathisers to commit outrages.

Another purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction, in this case the communal persecution or punishment of all Muslims in Britain. The trap here is that the state becomes the recruiting sergeant for the very organisations it is trying to suppress, The ‘Prevent’ programme may be doing just this. Such an approach is also counter-effective because so many people are regarded as suspicious that there are too little resources to focus on the far smaller number who are really dangerous. 

Atrocities such as Manchester will inevitably lead to friction between Muslims and non-Muslims and, if there are more attacks, sectarian and ethnic antipathies will increase. Downplaying the religious motivation and saying the killers “have nothing to do with real Islam” may have benign intentions, but has the disadvantage of being glaringly untrue. All the killers have been Muslim religious fanatics.

It might be more useful to say that their vicious beliefs have their roots in Wahhabism, a very small portion of the Muslim world population living in Saudi Arabia. Of course, this would have the disadvantage of annoying Saudi Arabia, whose rulers Britain and much of the rest of the world are so keen to cultivate.