Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ebola and Public Interest

As the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) spreads, public interest has followed in lockstep.

This is unsurprising. Facing EVD’s transmission across international borders, its extraordinary death rate, and its symptoms – such as bloody excretion from multiple orifices – EVD is hellish. We want to know how to protect ourselves. Media coverage is thus centering on EVD risks, symptoms, treatments, and containment plans.

Yet, this specificity is unusual for a crisis. For example, consider our ‘understanding’-driven interest in EVD, with our ‘conjecture’-driven interest in the disappearance of MH370.

When MH370 disappeared back in March, we were obsessed by the apparent implausibility of the circumstances. How in the digital technology age of multiple satellites and advanced radar, could a plane simply disappear? The circumstantial, often contradictory reporting fueled easy conspiracies. As I suggested at the time, “The longer the conundrum continues, the more our analytical tendencies give way to our expanded imaginations.” But where MH370 had indirect relevance to our own reliance on aviation, today’s EVD crisis has much more direct relevance to us. We were quietly confident that MH370 was a freak event; something that would not befall us. But the EVD outbreak has become a personal danger. With EVD, we no longer find excitement in the punditry of unknowns.

Still, with EVD, our variable perception of the danger has driven our variable attention to it. It's telling that the EVD outbreak only attracted widespread western attention after cases were identified outside Africa. Before, it was psychologically distant. Now, it is physically (and thus psychologically) near. 

Of course, in large part, our attitudes are also indelibly shaped by our modern cultural understandings of danger: a world of virus disaster movies bound to a more unpredictable world. As the BBC notes, from Brazil to Chile to Spain, false social media reports of EVD outbreaks are spreading fear in  the psychological proximity born of internet networking.

But it goes deeper than culture.

After all, there’s another in-the-news example here. Just as our desire to understand EVD attached to its arrival in the west, our desire to understand ISIL attached to the video beheading of westerners. Before that, the ISIS threat could be ignored or pontificated upon. After, however, it became personal. My underlying point is basic. Today, although modern technology grants an unmatched ability to understand global circumstances, our interest in crisis events is framed by our physical and psychological proximity to them. In short, we rarely care except when it directly concerns us to care. Until then, we prefer to close our eyes. And hope for the best.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Reza Aslan and the question of Islamic extremism

“Do you know that Muslims have elected seven women as their heads of states in those Muslim majority countries? How many women do we have as head of states in the United States?”

That was how, in a recent CNN interview, Professor-commentator Reza Aslan rebutted female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Islamic world. In Mr. Aslan’s view, women in many Muslim societies are better off than women in America.

Few claims are more ridiculous.

Mr. Aslan has since doubled down on this mantra. In an interview last Friday, he lambasted the media for a thinly veiled bigotry in its presentation of Islam. But with the controversy rumbling on, it’s worth considering the assertions Mr. Aslan made on CNN.

First off, that FGM is an African rather than an Islamic problem. While this is partly true – FGM is not specific to Islamic nations - the preponderance of FGM in many Muslim majority states is undeniable. Islamist-extremist clerics continue to agitate in its favor. They’re motivated by horrific notions of masochistic purity and anti-women fervor.

Mr. Aslan also suggested that Islamist extremists are no different from other religious extremists. As he put it, “There are Buddhist - marauding Buddhist monks – in Myanmar, slaughtering women and children. Does Buddhism promote violence? Of course not.” In short, Mr. Aslan believes religious extremists lack theological underpinnings and that correspondingly, Islam has no greater an extremism problem than Buddhism.

That’s just the start.

Asked whether there’s a specific problem with women’s rights in the Islamic World, he freaked out.

“Did you hear what you just said!”, he berated the CNN anchors, “You said ‘in Muslim countries’. I just told you that in Indonesia women are absolutely 100% equal to men. In Turkey they have had more female… stop saying things like ‘Muslim countries’!” For Mr. Aslan, these Islamic nations exemplify women’s rights and thus repudiate criticisms of political Islam. Yet when Mr. Aslan is then asked about Pakistan, he insists that the problem is a Pakistan-centric rather than Islamic-centric concern. ‘Hypocrisy’ is not a word in the Aslan dictionary. Mr. Aslan concludes by telling CNN that they’re “stupid” to suggest there might be a systemic problem with female rights in Muslim countries.

To be fair, Mr. Aslan is right about one thing. Much analysis of Islam is often oversimplified. As I’ve argued before, identifying political Islam as a pure Sunni vs. Shia conflict, for example, is pathetic. That being said, Mr. Aslan’s main contention is plainly wrong. As much as he might point to variable human rights in different Islamic states, contemporary political Islam is clearly rotting.

It’s a rot proved by the tens of thousands of young men who find their own Islamic purpose in a literal state of death.

It’s a rot proved by the political strength of Islamist totalitarians in Egypt, Iran, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Qatar, Kuwait, and in many other nations. Indeed, mentioning Iran and Saudi Arabia as aberrations for women’s rights, Mr. Aslan helpfully neglects to mention the extraordinary Islamist-political influence of these states. Saudi Arabia, after all, is the world’s exporter of Wahhabi authoritarianism, and Iran the world exporter of Khomeini’s totalitarian guardianship.
For all Mr. Aslan’s ranting - his preaching of Turkey’s democratic virtue is particularly ludicrous - today’s Islamic world encapsulates governmental corruption and incompetence, tolerated or promoted extremism, and human misery (especially for women).

Correspondingly, when Mr. Aslan and his ignorant flock hide these truths (remember the human piƱata?), and bully those (like Ayaan Hirsi Ali) who challenge them, they perpetuate grave injustice.

While the vast majority of Muslims are kind and generous people, today, their religion has been hijacked. And the victims of this hijacking are growing.

That’s a fact. Denying it, Mr. Aslan renders himself an apologist for ignorance and immorality.

2014 Midterms

Islamic State fighter jets?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez

Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez. RIP, heroes. When I visit my Grandmother at Arlington, I always try to visit these two great American heroes. This photo gives me comfort as to the great courage of our great country. 3 relevant articles on US Military personnel, US Military ideology and US Military humanitarianism.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

China Link Page

China pieces (ignore date/time post - page updated regularly). Most recent at top.

At China's behest, Duterte turns his navy into a beach patrol
Beijing's total loyalty message to HSBC
German minister: be more skeptical of China
U.S. must rebuke China's Hong Kong law threat to American
Banning candidates, China proves lie behind Hong Kong law
China conducts carrier killer exercises
Ecuador should sink Chinese fishing fleet if it enters Galapagos protection zone
Xi Jinping shows his clownish evil with Ren punishment
What we just learned about British intelligence
China's closing of U.S. consulate will be less damaging than vice versa
Why the U.S. ordered China's Houston consulate closed
China's espionage on U.S. soil won't end with Houston consulate
Trump should clarify his position on the South China Sea
Don't ban Communist Party travel to the U.S.
Xi's new letter underlines his fears and priorities
China is furious - and wrong - about Royal Navy deployments
Why China sees Hong Kong sanctions as a critical threat
Why China didn't go crazy over Britain's Huawei ban
Fear Chinese ballistic missiles, not Beijing's new fighter jet
Democrats ignore intelligence threat in demand for Peace Corps funding
Why Pompeo's South China Sea statement is so significant
What DGSE traitors tell us about Chinese intelligence activity
What's up with Zhao Lijian's escalating rage?
Tariff China if it sanctions Australia
Huawei executives caught in a telling lie
Iain Duncan Smith compares China to Nazi Germany
Why Britain is moving against Huawei
We're closer to a South China Sea conflict than you think
Eyeing China's threat Australia boosts defense spending
Expel Chinese diplomats in correlation to Hong Kong security charges
Why China is conducting aggressive Paracel Islands exercises
Purifying the Uighurs, China offers homage to Nazism
China's failed plot to split Pompeo and Trump
The EU offers China a human rights fire sale
China escalates against Trump via Australia and Canada
HSBC suffers a harsh reeducation under the Chinese Communist Leash
All in on BLM, US banks are all quiet on the China front
Sell Harpoon missiles to Taiwan
The EU's Hong Kong crisis
Why Trump's Hong Kong announcement is so significant
China and Russia are threatening U.S. aircrews. Why doesn't the Pentagon act?
Trump should stand with India, not offer to mediate
China's aircraft carriers are playing games not war with Taiwan
Reminder, Google can't be trusted on China
Will China use North Korea to pressure Trump?
China moves to immolate Hong Kong
No pass for Huawei and no protectionism
What's behind China's sudden false humility
Mike Pompeo offers a much needed rebuke to Israel over China
The intelligence shows a cover up at the Wuhan lab, just not why
The EU doubles down on its Beijing door mat strategy
Why China likely wants Trump to lose in 2020
How China might beat the U.S. in the vaccine race
China's PR strategy is detonating around the globe
China's navy gloating is misplaced
Harvard could ask China to pay back its federal grants
Why China is using coronavirus to crackdown on Hong Kong
Were he to die, who might replace Kim Jong Un as North Korean leader?
China acquires a British knight to fight for Huawei
We're all in this together, unless, that is, you're African
Harvard might ask China to pay back its federal grants
Huawei suffers a new British blow
Why China is threatening to destroy Taiwan over the coronavirus
WHO chief proves he's Beijing's useful idiot
China's deceptive two mountains strategy
Why China is hoarding medical equipment
US Navy should look to Admirals before punishing Captains
Monty Python meets 1984. Or what China calls its Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Three of the worse pro-Beijing tropes
China's fishing war matters
Preparing to fight China, the Marines return to 1940s roots
Chinese media sells Xi's deceptive G-20 speech
The old lesson in China's sale of defective coronavirus goods to Spain
Why Josh Hawley's China resolution is necessary
Here's what Chinese state media is telling its citizens
Did the NSA bust China's coronavirus lies?
Racism is bad and China is America's foremost enemy
Why China's coronavirus PR campaign is ultimately doomed
China's hydra information warfare machine
Why China is expelling Americans
Expel China's Ambassador over Coronavirus lies
Xi the Pennywise-style clown hides the truth in his gulags
Xi Jinping's Coronavirus body of lies
Trump moves towards China-first trade policy
China follows Stalinist-Nazi lead with forced labor camps
Why do some Democrats trust China?
Bloomberg's brilliantly bad China answer
The US must retaliate against China's media expulsions
Why China is a bigger threat than the Soviet Union
A hypothetical spy story on why China hacked Equifax
The USS Gerald R. Ford is, at present, a sad joke
Xi is handling the Coronavirus just like the Soviets handled Chernobyl
China's outrageous threats to the Wall Street Journal
China suffers five small defeats
How the U.S. should handle Britain's Huawei decision
China trade deal is good for Trump but poses risks
Inside Huawei's secret war for the world
Why China gets a free pass at COP25
China's great carbon hoax
Hong Kong's very personal repudiation of Xi
Xi's mad intellectual property philosophy
Why Hong Kong protesters don't give in
Why Beijing will bring slaughter to Hong Kong
Josh Hawley gets China's military threat
What's behind the escalation in Hong Kong?
China's ludicrous new Hong Kong strategy
Bowing to Beijing, Macron abandons his treasured liberal order
Trump should fire Navy Secretary Richard Spencer
China makes Daryl Morey's point for him
Why is Joe Tsai slurping Chinese propaganda
The NBA, Top Gun, and China's great victory
Eyeing China, the US Navy prepares for battle
Trump's silence on Hong Kong might help Hongkongers
China's stupid face mask ban in Hong Kong
70 years later, Mao's dream lives
China masters irony in Hong Kong rant
Don't waste 725 words on Modi and fail to mention China
Why the USAF is right to focus on the B-21, not B-1
Australia deserves this state dinner
Huawei's amazingly bad new phones
Mark Esper offers an example on China
Angela Merkel shows rare leadership in Beijing
This weekend is crucial for Hong Kong's future
Yes. chuck China out of the WTO
Trump must put Beijing's puppet Duterte on notice
Trump rightly forces Google to cut down on China
The defense secretary is focused on China
Outgoing Navy chief explains how the maritime force is challenging China
Be realistic about what a US-China trade deal would look like
Sensing vulnerability, China turns up heat on Trump
The amazing gall of Chinese-Russian missile complaints
Hong Kong shows us to keep calm and trust in the free market
What Trump gets wrong about Xi and Hong Kong
China scores a conspiracy own goal in Hong Kong
What if China's military enters Hong Kong
Hong Kong airport seizure almost guarantees military intrusion
US Navy bows to China on Top Gun: Maverick
Trump's new China tariffs carry risks and rewards
An ominous threat to Hongkongers
Chatham House is wrong to embrace China
The president cannot show weakness on China trade
Why Beijing might soon send the military into Hong Kong
Chinese threats via Cambodia demand a new US response
China just threatened the US over Taiwan
Trump is failing Canada on China
Xi and Trump's friendship strategy
Why to expect a China trade deal by Labor Day
New acting defense secretary is bad news for China
The delusion of US-China business chief
In Chinese propaganda, echoes of the Borg Collective
Joe Biden's China shift requires his Obama policy divorce
China, Hong Kong, and the better proof of America's international order
The USS Chancellorsville incident and why Putin is sucking up to Xi
Let China complain the U.S. is right to provide new arms to Taiwan
The Financial Times sadly and madly engages with Chinese propaganda
Tariffs on China will cost Americans and Americans must suck it up
Mike Pompeo is wrong to give Israel a pass on China
Trump traps the Huawei cutout between the marketplace and reality
Trump neuters Huawei
America will pay if Trump backs down to China now
Does Max Boot know where China is?
Allies amidships, the US orchestrates a sea-based message to China
Mike Pompeo gives Britain an important message in London
Intellectual property can't be the centerpiece of US-China talks
Trump had a great 24 hours on China
Why China just threatened Australian, criticized Britain, and cut Canadian imports
China, two leaks, and why Theresa May fired her defense secretary
Xi the highwayman stalks the world on his belt road
Mind China's increasingly impressive navy
The hypocrisy of the China-Iran alliance
Britain shows how China intends to use Huawei to spy
Trump must wake up his defense secretary to give Indo-Pacific command what it needs
At Mar-A-Lago Trump is reminded that Xi Jinping is not his friend
Trump's Taiwan policy requires a delicate dance
China tries to break France from America with bribes
China's insane human rights argument
The ridiculous Harvard submission to Chinese spies
Chinese propaganda proves Xi's concern over Huawei crackdown
Xi Jinping and the lesson of Austerlitz
China propaganda shows Xi's struggles
China hides its economy weakness behind a great wall of lies
The US Navy needs to be more creative
China wouldn't stop America in Venezuela
The Royal Navy consolidates America
Trump's new China tweets are good, bad, and ugly
Xi's delicious tears over Huawei
China will welcome Trump's shutdown deal
Trump's missile defense plan is a bad idea
On ZTE Trump drinks Xi's kool aid (Washington Examiner)
Trump's tariffs will annoy China (Washington Examiner)
Xi's new world order (Washington Examiner)
Trump must woo India, right now (Washington Examiner)
Trump shouldn't fall for Xi's pomp (Washington Examiner)
Australia is a great U.S. ally (Washington Examiner)    
Countering Chinese support for Kim-jong Un (Washington Examiner editorial - I wrote)
Realism - relevant to China - (National Review)
3 New Crises in 2016 (National Review)
China Hacks the OPM (National Review)
China's Ally Russia (National Review)
On China-Pakistan relations (The McLaughlin Group)
China's internal difficulties (The McLaughlin Group)
The Hong Kong Protests (National Review)
China in Pacific II  (National Review)
China in the Pacific I (National Review)