>If you can read Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 and still be a 9/11 Truther then you have some serious issues.
Wright interviewed hundreds of people in researching this book including FBI and CIA officers who were intimately involved in hunting Al Qaeda, both before and after 9/11, members of overseas intelligence services, mainly in the Middle East, and former/ incarcerated members of terrorist organisations. He provides a substantial list at the end of the book.
Wright gives the history of Al Qaeda, it predecessors, the lives of its main players, how Bin Laden came to be fighting in Afghanistan against the Soviets, his time in Sudan, his family relationships and how it came about that he would focus exclusively on targeting America and its assets. There’s also a history of Ayman al-Zawahiri from childhood through to radicalisation, competition with Bin Laden and, eventually, merging with him due to financial necessity.
There are a few things that really stick in the memory:
- How remarkably lucky Bin Laden was to survive Afghanistan let alone to get to the point of carrying out the 9/11 attack;
- The remarkable incompetence of the CIA, which jealously kept information from the FBI that would likely have led to the uncovering of the 9/11 plot;
- The fecklessness of the Clinton administration in dealing with Al Qaeda after various attacks (note that I don’t know whether any other administration would have acted any differently, unfortunately, though the wall between CIA and FBI was established at this time);
- The bravery of the FBI’s John O’Neill to recognise Al Qaeda as a major world threat early on and push and push and push his superiors to give it a high priority. Tragically, O’Neill would leave the FBI shortly before 9/11 to take up a role as chief of security for the Twin Towers, where he would perish when he went back in to help people;
- The intrigue and politics between nations that are not necessarily recognised as allies; and
- The fact that the large majority of Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, membership came from the middle class, which dispels the myth that it’s poverty that drives them to commit such atrocities.
It’s a great read.
9/10 from your erstwhile book reviewer.
>I’ve just finished reading Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism.
It’s unfortunate that the term ‘liberal’ has been coopted by today’s left, as a traditional liberal agenda looks nothing like the activist, high taxing, interfering agenda of the left.
Goldberg neatly dissects the fascist tendencies of a number of liberal icons – Wilson and FDR through to the Clintons – by first reminding people what fascism really is, how similar the fascist platform of the 1910s, 20s and 30s are to today’s progessive and left-liberal agenda, and then providing clear examples of fascism through to the present day.
It covers the politics of meaning, race, the environment and a number of other areas all of which would be applauded by Mussolini, FDR and Wilson et al.
I came to the conclusion many years ago that unless one understands that fascism is a uniquely left wing ideology one can’t understand the make up of the political spectrum and, critically, cannot understand where the political centre lies.
You may find yourself arguing with one of your lefty friends about which side of politics fascism resides on. They are guaranteed to not understand what fascism really is but they will understand that it involves a massive involvement by government in society.
Given that the underpinning philosophy of the right is liberty, self reliance and small government you should ask how fascism can be a right wing construct given that philosophical basis.
You might also want to remind them that it was Stalin who gave fascists the tag of being right wing because the national socialists/fascists were to the right of communism. The fact that they were also well to the left of the political centre is missed by those who spend their time forming opinions instead of doing any worthwhile research.
I bought a number of copies of Liberal Fascism and gave them to my friends. I suggest you do the same.
>I read Mark Steyn’s recent book, America Alone, the other day. I say “the other day” because I started in the morning, was quickly hooked and read all the way through to finish in the afternoon. Like all good books it’s concise and precise and packs a lot of punch in its two hundred and a bit pages.
Steyn’s thesis is that societies are a product of their demographics and that the increasing number of Muslims in (particularly) Western Europe set against a decline in the indigenous population due to a massive decline in birth rates is going to have profound consequences.
“What’s the Muslim population of Rotterdam? Forty percent. What’s the most popular baby boy’s name in Belgium? Mohammed. In Amsterdam? Mohammed. In Malmo, Sweden? Mohammed. By 2005, it was the fifth most popular boy’s name in the United Kingdom.”
The book is full of really interesting facts about the decline in birth rates through various countries in Europe that will see those countries halve their populations by 2050. By mid-century, Muslims continue to have large families and Europeans continue to have tiny ones, the nation of Yemen will exceed Russia in population.
“In the fourteenth century, the Black Death wiped out a third of the Continent’s population; in the twenty-first, a larger proportion will disappear — in effect, by choice. We are living through a rare moment: the self-extinction of the civilization which, for good or ill, shaped the age we live in. One can cite examples of remote backward tribes who expire upon contact with the modern world, but for the modern world to expire in favor of the backward tribes is a turn of events future anthropologists will ponder, as we do the fall of Rome.”
Steyn agrees with the theme introduced by others including Melanie Phillips in her book Londonistan that Europe’s overly generous welfare system has attracted a new form of immigrant, one that isn’t attracted by the strength of the society or by the opportunities to improve one’s lot in life (such as the attraction of America) but by the promise of welfare. These rent-seeking newcomers don’t respect the values or opportunities on offer but, instead, simply uproot themselves, end up in England, France, Belgium and Sweden etc and establish outposts of their home countries.
When one population breeds at a massive rate and one is in serious decline you’d think that there will come a point at which a clash occurs. However, far from understanding the threat, Europe is doing all it can to hasten its own demise by accommodating even the most ridiculous of Muslim demands. Neither Steyn or Phillips believe that there is any way to avoid Western Europe becoming an Islamic state. We are likely to see a majority Muslim European country with nuclear weapons within our lifetime and must cross our fingers that the dominant radical element has been overcome by moderate forces.
Steyn has a breezy, humorous style that makes it a frightening and fun read.
8/10 for the highly recommended America Alone.