Pundit Wire
Where Political Speechwriters Comment on the News

Jihadism is not nihilism

15240044118_04fa98293a_o (1)You can say the Islam of ISIS is a perversion of the teachings of Muhammad, just as you can say the Inquisition and the Crusades were a perversion of the teachings of Jesus, or that the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was a perversion of the teachings of the Torah. You can say the Islam of ISIS is fundamentalist and extreme, just as you can say the Christianity that supports Israel to hasten the arrival of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ is fundamentalist and extreme, or that the Judaism that supports replacing the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the Third Temple to hasten the arrival of the Messiah is fundamentalist and extreme. But what you cannot say is that the jihadism of the butchers of Paris, Beirut and Sharm el-Sheikh is a consequence of their concluding that Allah is dead, which is what calling them nihilists would mean.

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French Intellectual Gets it Right on Terrorism

Paris_vue_d'ensemble_tour_EiffelPascal Bruckner is an esteemed French novelist, essayist and philosopher. Moreover—and decidedly rare among French intellectuals—he is pro-American. He taught for a year at U.C. San Diego, and is a frequent visitor to this country. He recently wrote to an American friend, “If anything tragic comes from the enemies of the West, let us say Russia or ISIS, we will be very happy to be sheltered by the American umbrella as we were in 1917, 1944, and 1948 during the Cold War.”

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“Patriotism Is Not Enough”

A close-up of the Edith Cavell statue in London.One hundred years ago on October 12, in the gray light of a chill Brussels dawn, a gallant English nurse faced a German firing squad.

Her name: Edith Cavell.

Her crime: Helping Allied soldiers escape to neutral Holland.

Bullets were a strange end for a woman who had devoted her life to being a healer.

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Obama v Putin – a New Realism?

Barack_Obama_addresses_the_United_Nations_General_AssemblyThe prospect of Russia fighter jets and special forces setting about ISIL with gusto and no mercy whatsoever warms the cockles of Western leaders’ hearts. And maybe some grimy deal that keeps Assad afloat for the time being is better than Syria collapsing completely and all those refugees banging on the door. Plus shared progress here might lead to shared progress over Ukraine.

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Whose 5776?

I realized how experience-poor I actually was as soon as I began to travel, which I’ve done as often as I can ever since. Anyone who has escaped a parochial bubble knows the advantage of losing your bearings, the fraught discovery that everything you’ve thought was normal turns out to be just your own tribal variant of an unimaginable profusion of ways to know, feel, and act in the world. There are, you come to learn, countless local versions of a normal breakfast, a normal parent, a normal song, a normal god. It’s disorienting to realize that when you get back home again and are going about the routine business of your life, the foreign lives you’ve glimpsed are still going on as strangely — and as ordinarily — as ever. And it’s discomfiting to realize that if they knew how much we privileged our own normalcy, they’d figure out what kind of hicks we’d have to be to believe that.

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Borders and Identity

LE_Eithne_Operation_TritonGermany is now realising that it cannot make such an apparently open-ended offer, so is pressing hard for other EU countries to share the burden through some sort of mandatory quota system. Poland, Hungary and some other states are resisting. They have spent long decades if not centuries grappling to assert their national and linguistic identity under different imperial powers, and are determined not to see their hard-won independence eroded.

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Revenge of the Clowns

Radio_Martí_broadcast_studioThe Cuban government’s resentment of Caballero’s employer is understandable, if a bit huffy.  After 30 years of beaming anti-Castro broadcasts toward “La Isla” (Cuba), U.S. Government-funded Radio and TV Martí has a pretty pathetic record.  Created in 1985 as an alternative news source for beleaguered Cubans, Martí never reached more than two per cent of the Cuban people, and 90 per cent of Cubans never even knew it existed.  Effective jamming by the Cuban government scrambled the signal almost all the time, even and especially during the brave days of broadcasting from a blimp over the Caribbean.

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“Je m’en vais”

IMG_20150910_102337Big news! Thomas Yayi Boni will be president of the Republic of Benin until 2016. This is worthy of respect, gratitude, and archival notation.

Oh, and did I mention he will step down in 2016 at the end of his second, democratically elected five-year mandate? This is huge. Or as a leading U.S. candidate would say, “Hyooodge.”

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