When Evil Regimes Threaten to Do Evil Things, Believe Them

March 21 2022

A full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, writes Matthew Continetti, was one of those historical events that “seem impossible right up to the minute that they take place.” After surveying the predictions of various experts that no such thing would happen, Continetti then examines the evidence that it would:

Putin . . . chose to follow the logic he had set out in a 5,000-word essay published in July 2021. Its title was “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” It’s where Putin made his ghoulish case that the borders of Ukraine are illegitimate. Where he asserted that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people.” Where he admonished readers that the Ukrainian nation-state exists at Russia’s pleasure.

In launching his war, Putin did exactly what he had shown every indication of preparing to do for some time. Why, then, was it so difficult for so many experts to take him seriously? . . . “In the face of unfathomable evil,” wrote the late Charles Krauthammer, “decent people are psychologically disarmed.” And when autocrats resort to violence, citizens of democracies that enjoy the rule of law are shocked.

With this in mind, Continetti considers the threats made by the rulers of China and Iran:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has spent decades calling for the end of Israel. Last May, for example, Khamenei gave a lesson in Jew-hatred and anti-Zionism when he said that Iran has no greater enemy than Israel and that “the fight against this despotic regime is the fight against oppression and the fight against terrorism. And this is a public duty to fight against this regime.”

Even as President Biden punished Russia for its actions, however, he was relying on Russia as the intermediary in nuclear talks with an Iranian government that poses an existential threat to Israel. Even as Biden rallied the world in support of Ukrainian freedom, his intermediaries prepared to lift sanctions on the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. The same administration that turned out to be right about Vladimir Putin’s program in Ukraine lives in la-la-land when it comes to the stated intentions of a theocracy whose malign behavior in the Middle East aims at regional hegemony and the eradication of the Jewish state.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: China, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin, War in Ukraine

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter