What does Labour think about Brexit? “Well search me,” said Lord Mandelson with a laugh last night after Newsnight asked him to define it. It fell to Sir Keir Starmer to shed some light today. He tried his best, using all the professionalism expected from a former Director of Public Prosecutions, but Tom Harris found there were numerous reasons to doubt “ whether such coherence will stand up to scrutiny or, more importantly, will attract the support of voters”.
The Shadow Brexit Secretary won’t be helped in his bid to provide clarity over Labour’s thinking by the split he opened up with his fellow colleagues over EU migration. Sir Keir said that immigration rules will “have to change as we exit the EU”, although Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said less than a fortnight ago that freedom of movement should be defended as a “workers’ right”, while Jeremy Corbyn is a stout defender of free movement. That may explain why he radiated “ all the hope and optimism of a punctured bouncy castle”, in Michael Deacon’s view.
Theresa May has kept her campaign on an even keel in the meantime, helped by her ‘strong and stable’ commitment to key election messaging. The polls continue to suggest that the Tories will romp to victory, with the latest suggesting they are on course for a 150-seat majority, so she has made a point of warning her Cabinet against complacency. The Prime Minister must find it all too tempting to gloat given the difficulty her Opposition is having even with agreeing on what it thinks about Brexit, but she will know that she has to drive her supporters out to the polls in order to obtain the big mandate she seeks.
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A new hero has been born in the Arab world and his name is Donald Trump. And this is not a joke.
Arabs and Muslims love leaders who talk tough and do not hesitate to use force. In the Arab world, compromise is a sign of weakness.
Until recently, Trump was anathema to many Arabs and Muslims. So what happened? U.S. President Donald Trump did something Arab leaders have failed to do: he helped the Syrian civilians who were being gassed by their ruler.
Arabs and Muslims have long lost faith in their leaders’ ability to deal with the crises plaguing Arab and Islamic countries. The civil war in Syria, which has been raging for more than five years and which has claimed the lives of more than half a million people, is seen as a shining best example of Arab and Muslim leaders’ incompetence and apathy.
The most recent Arab League summit in Jordan, which brought together many Arab heads of state and monarchs, will be best remembered for the photos of leaders falling asleep during the discussions. These pictures, which have been circulating widely in the Arab media, feel like salt in the festering wound of Arab leaders’ indifference to their peoples’ plights.
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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was Turkey’s President, and is Turkey’s President, and apparently will remain Turkey’s President. So, what was the referendum all about and why should we be suspicious? Well, first off there was the official consolidation of all political power in the Office of President and the end of the position of Prime Minister. The President now has dictatorial power even over votes of the Parliament. The Office of President will be filled through direct election when required. Do not expect any President to lose one of those elections any time soon. Then there were the tactics where opponents who spoke out being intimidated by every means necessary. The final tally was interesting as well. One would think that since you controlled the counting of the votes that one might have chosen numbers somewhat more impressive around which to have such a collating of absolute power to yourself. There…
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Jihad is spreading violence — and succeeding. “Of the last sixteen years,” notes Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her new book, The Challenge of Dawa, “the worst year for terrorism was 2014, with ninety-three countries experiencing attacks and 32,765 people killed.”
“The second worst was 2015, with 29,376 deaths. Last year, four radical Islamic groups were responsible for 74 percent of all deaths from terrorism: the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Boko Haram, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. Although the Muslim world itself bears the heaviest burden of jihadist violence, the West is increasingly under attack”.
Hirsi Ali’s research, supported by the Hoover Institution, is a summary of the war on terror since the extremist Muslim attacks on the United States in September 2001:
“Since 9/11, at least $1.7 trillion has been spent on combat and reconstruction costs in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The total budgetary cost of the wars and homeland security from 2001 through 2016 is more than $3.6 trillion. Yet in spite of the sacrifices of more than 5,000 armed service personnel who have lost their lives since 9/11, today political Islam is on the rise around the world”.
According to Hirsi Ali, the West is “obsessed” with terror and this makes it blind to the broader threat, dawa, outreach: the ideology behind the terror attacks.
How large is the worldwide jihadist movement? More than we thought.
“In Pakistan alone, where the population is almost entirely Muslim, 13 percent of Muslims surveyed—more than 20 million people—said that bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies… According to one estimate, 10−15 percent of the world’s Muslims are Islamists. Out of well over 1.6 billion, or 23 percent of the globe’s population, that implies more than 160 million individuals”.
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Speaking in Youngstown, Ohio, on August 15, 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a speech on what he unequivocally referred to as “radical Islam.” He declared:
Nor can we let the hateful ideology of radical Islam—its oppression of women, gays, children, and nonbelievers—be allowed to reside or spread within our own countries . . . [W]-e must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of radical Islam. Our administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.1
Since Mr. Trump’s election victory and inauguration as president, much attention has been focused on hurried and probably temporary restrictions on refugees, visitors, and immigrants from a number of majority-Muslim countries. Almost no attention has been paid to the broader goals outlined in the Youngstown speech.
I argue that the speech heralded a paradigm shift away from President Obama’s doctrine of focusing solely on the violence committed by “extremists” to a more comprehensive approach that seeks to undermine, degrade, and ultimately defeat political Islam (or Islamism) as an ideology and a movement seeking to infiltrate and undermine our free society.
A narrow focus on Islamist violence had the effect of restricting our options only to tools such as military intervention, electronic surveillance, and the criminal justice system. This approach has proved both costly and ineffective.
Moving beyond the controversy over his executive order on immigration, President Trump now has the chance to broaden our strategy. Instead of “combating violent extremism,” his administration needs to redefine the threat posed by political Islam by recognizing it as an ideology that is fundamentally incompatible with our freedoms and a movement that is working insidiously but effectively to achieve its stated utopia.2
I argue that the American public urgently needs to be educated about both the ideology of political Islam and the organizational infrastructure called dawa that Islamists use to inspire, indoctrinate, recruit, finance, and mobilize those Muslims whom they win over to their cause.
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