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  The Complete Spengler


And Spengler is ...
For the past 10 years, Asia Times Online has guarded the secret of Spengler's identity zealously. Now, the columnist whose interests range from the banking crises to Biblical exegesis steps out of the shadows with an autobiographical essay revealing who he is, why he writes, and why he chose his pseudonym. (Apr 17,'09)

The gods are stupid
We flatter ourselves that our idols are clever because they are not made out of wood, but silicon, for example, the universally worshiped god "Google", the new omniscient deity whose Mercury now is called "Gmail". The trouble is that Google is stupid for taking everything literally. Literal language is a failure, and that is why mankind communicates through metaphor. Try telling jokes to your computer, and see if it laughs. (Mar 30,'09)

This almost-chosen, almost-pregnant land

American Babylon by Richard John Neuhaus
America is "a country with the soul of a church", as author G K Chesterton wrote, and by no accident, it is the only industrial nation (apart from Israel) in which religion plays a decisive role in public life. The central role of religion continues to polarize Americans and confuse foreign observers. - Spengler (Mar 16,'09)

Obama and his magic lamp
President Barack Obama was expected to adjust United States foreign policy to the constraints of rising foreign debt and existing entanglements. Instead, Obama has strode forth with a magic lamp in hand, namely the US's bottomless capacity to borrow. Struggling countries - such as Turkey - will smile and nod and take American checks, at least for the moment, while there still are functioning governments to take American checks. (Mar 9,'09)

Sex, drugs and Islam
Recent studies have documented an explosion of social pathologies in Iran, such as drug addiction and prostitution, on a scale much worse than anything experienced in the West. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it appears that Islamic theocracy promotes rather than represses social decay. Iran may be fighting for its life. (Feb 23,'09)

Obama, an economic unilateralist
Claims that the financial crisis will dethrone the United States as the dominant world superpower are merely silly. The crisis strengthens the relative position of the US and exposes the far graver weaknesses of all prospective competitors, China included. It also positions President Barack Obama as a unilateralist president far beyond Ronald Reagan's dream. (Feb 17,'09)

Benedict's tragedy, and Israel's

Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor John Paul II, has fought manfully against prospective deserters within his ranks. The tawdry burlesque over Benedict's decision to rescind the excommunications of the paranoid Jew-hater and Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson is a sad gauge of his degree of success. (Feb 9,'09)

Who are the 'extraordinary' Muslims?
Most Muslims want to better their lives, as United States President Barack Obama told an Arabic television channel last week, but their lives are getting worse rather than better, and nothing they know can make things better. In theory, there might be a future in which the Islamic world could live in peace and prosperity, but today's Muslims cannot get there from here. (Feb 2,'09)

Save less, breed more
As always, the inimitable Spengler has gone through his in-box in singular style. This time he's got slices of sagacity for the leader of the world's most-populous nation, the new president of a superpower struggling to jump-start a sputtering economy in time for re-election, and a controversial defense minister caught between national safety and international opinion. (Feb 2,'09)

President Oxybarama
The inaugural address of President Barack Obama contained so many nods in so many directions that the compass needle was sent spinning. Oxymorons abounded because, in Obama's struggle to hold together so many disparate elements, incompatibility popped to the surface. Now we fear at every moment that the new president may be pulled apart. (Jan 21,'09)

Absolute power gets blamed absolutely
Since Barack Obama, now still adored and still unknown, was elected to be United States president, the S&P 500 index has lost 17% of its value, after absorbing Obama's proposed cabinet and hearing the gist of his economic stimulus plan. That can't be blamed on George W Bush as he leaves the presidency. It counts as the "Obama crash". (Jan 20,'09)

What Obama knows, America forgot
Whether president-elect Barack Obama is a Western sentimentalist or a Third World anthropologist who has talked his way into the leadership of the United States is unclear. Confronted with multiple crises that threaten the power of the US, this clever Luo from Hawaii by way of Indonesia may defend his prerogatives more ferociously than anyone expects. (Jan 12,'09)

Suicide by Israel
What do you do when a group of people would rather die on their feet than live on their knees? Hamas was formed to prevent a permanent Jewish presence in its historic land, and now it has provoked war with Israel. As in any war, economic pressure and military operations that kill civilians as collateral damage are legitimate instruments. It is hypocrisy to pretend otherwise. (Jan 7,'09)

Overcoming ethnicity
The decisive divide in today's world lies between nations that have a future, and nations that do not. Samuel Huntington, who died last December 27, reintroduced this radically tragic dimension into geopolitics, but statesmen have yet to embrace it. The great question that Huntington left open is why some civilizations are condemned to clash. (Jan 5,'09)

Waking from Lever-Lever Land
The financial crisis has been a wake-up moment for America's Peter Pan generation as baby-boomers discover that fairy dust no longer entitles them to fly. Now they are struggling to put something aside for a retirement that they never may be able to afford. Harnessing the productivity of the world's young people is the challenge for next year and the next decade. (Dec 24,'08)

The devil and Bernard Madoff
Bernard Madoff's fleecing of the rich and famous in his apparent US$50 billion swindle, along with supposedly savvy investment firms, exposes America's elite as feckless incompetents who could not spot the wolf within their own sheepfold. (Dec 18,'08)

The failed Muslims states to come
Financial crises, like epidemics, kill the unhealthy first. The present crisis is painful for most of the world but deadly for many Muslim countries, and especially so for the most populous ones. From Pakistan to Indonesia, and not excluding Saudi Arabia, the likelihood of states failing along the lines of Somalia are increasing. Policy makers have not begun to assess the damage. (Dec 15,'08)

Benedict XVI is magnificently right
Pope Benedict XVI argued when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger that an unethical economy will destroy itself, and that economics cannot determine whether any activity is ethical or not. If the present economic crisis helps the West to reflect on its moral weakness, the cost well may be worth it. (Dec 8,'08)

China’s six-to-one advantage over the US
With 36 million Chinese children studying piano, compared to just 6 million in the United States, China is set to form an intellectual elite of unrivalled proportions. By mastering the most elevated and characteristically Western forms of high culture, China is proving that great empires can transcend their roots to become originators rather than imitators. Anyone who doubts this probably doesn't get Mozart's jokes either. (Dec 1,'08)

Obama's one-trick wizards
President-elect Barack Obama's prospective cabinet is being packed with bankers who fouled their own nests and then secured bailouts from the US taxpayer. Now they will be allowed to play with the federal government budget for the next four years. If these one-trick leverage wizards are the best and the brightest of 2008, America is in very deep trouble. (Nov 24,'08)

Scandal exposes Islam's weakness
In an odd little byway of academia, Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a German convert to Islam who teaches Muslim theology, has laid a Gnostic egg in the nest of Islam by declaring that the Prophet Mohammed never existed, at least not as Islamic tradition claims he did. It is another crack in the edifice of Islam, but a most dangerous one, because it came from the inside. (Nov 17,'08)

A Pyrrhic propaganda victory in Rome?
After the fall of communism, the world's greatest barrier to freedom has been the absence of religious liberty in the Muslim world. With this in mind, free people everywhere took a profound interest in the outcome of Pope Benedict XVI's encounter last week with Muslim scholars. The result may appear to be a propaganda victory for the Muslims, but such pronouncements can be misleading. (Nov 11,'08)

Lesson redux
When Rudyard Kipling set out to excoriate Britain's imperial entanglement in South Africa, no one listened. As his biographers point out, he never lived to say, "I told you so." If America's costly and tragic international adventures could conjure Kipling from the grave, it would be interesting to hear his thoughts, given perhaps to the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt. (Nov 3,'08)

The world isn't flat, but flattened
The financial crash has exposed the fragility of large swaths of the world, and the political consequences will be terrible. Those who objected to America's role as world policeman will get what they wanted, but they won't like it: a religious war reaching from Lebanon to Pakistan, and a Colombian-style narco-war spreading to Mexico and Brazil. Worse scenarios may affect the most populous Muslim countries, and Russia's "near abroad". There will be no winners. (Oct 27,'08)

Sharansky's mistaken identity
We must belong to cultures and nations, author Natan Sharansky asserts, rather than to the insipid soup of global citizenship. The trouble is that some identities are hostile to other identities by nature. From Ireland to Afghanistan, for example, the identities of all tribes and nations have become a response to Israel. (Oct 20,'08)

Gambling, growth and imagination
Paul Krugman this week won the Nobel Prize in economics for his "analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity". Reuven Brenner would have been a more deserving winner. Rather than put bells and whistles on the conventional economic model - now in cataclysmic breakdown - Brenner yanks economics inside-out by placing risky behavior at its center. (Oct 14, '08)

Hockey moms and capital markets
Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, derided outside the United States as a mere country bumpkin unfit for higher office, personifies why Asian investors continue to pour money into the US, even as its financial sector nears breakdown. (Oct 6, '08)

Truth, lies and ticker tape
The world will not end if the US Congress refuses to pass a redrawn financial sector bailout plan. Unfortunately, nor will it be the end of America's financier caste, which will live to fleece another day. But when you hear that there is no choice but a bailout, remember: it just ain't so. (Oct 1, '08)

US wealth in shrink mode
Leverage is the secret of American wealth, helping to triple over the past 40 years the proportion of wealth held by the average US family compared with its annual income. With leveraging now broken, the bottom could be a long way down. (Sep 29, '08)

E pluribus hokum or
When the gamblers bail out the casino

Americans are taxing themselves, hugely, to keep the US financial casino running, even though it will not profit them. Why does the government not, instead, let the Chinese, or the Saudis, take control of failed US banks? Where, in fact, is the leader who will drive out the American oligarchs who have stolen the country's treasure? (Sep 22, '08)

Lehman and the end of the era of leverage
The failure of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns does not reflect the breakdown of a particular kind of corporate culture. What took both firms down, rather, is a sudden break in the chain of expectations between the present and the future. Today’s savers no longer have any confidence that they will earn enough to fund their retirements by putting money at risk. And so the Great Crash of 2008 enters a new phase. (Sep 15, '08)

A comedy of areas
If the late, great US stand-up comedian George Carlin were still with us and offering insights on world affairs, he might be mightily amused that two of Washington's beacons of liberty - Georgia and Ukraine - won't even exist in the not-so-distant future. Not everyone is going to make it, Carlin always said, and that goes for desert countries with no food and former Soviet republics where there aren't any babies. (Sep 9,'08)

How Obama lost the election
Democratic candidate Barack Obama may spend the rest of his life wondering why he rejected Senator Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential pick and lost a surefire path to victory. As Obama marches to defeat, John McCain has made the masterful choice of an Alaskan amazon with a steelworker spouse. (Sep 2, '08)

The lady doth protest too little
The Democratic Party presented a sunny and smiling Michelle Obama for the keynote slot of its national convention on Monday night - the first time any candidate's wife has had that honor. The break in precedent will help her overcome her image problem if she can maintain her sangfroid in front of a hostile press corps. (Aug 26, '08)

Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess
The Americans play chess for career and perceived advantage. Russia is playing for its life, literally, as it has passed the point of no return in terms of fertility - it is a dying population. This demographic predicament stands at the center of Moscow's calculations in "accumulating" the millions of ethnic Russians scattered in its near abroad. After Georgia, Ukraine is next. (Aug 18, '08)

Putin for US president - more than ever
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's swift and decisive action in Georgia reflects precisely the sort of decisiveness that America requires. For the United States, apart from a bad case of cream pie on the face, it has lost nothing - Georgia never should have been an ally in the first place. (Aug 12, '08)

Sufism, sodomy and Satan
Sufism seeks one-ness with the universe through spiritual exercises that lead individual consciousness to dissolve into the cosmos. But nothing is more narcissistic than the contemplation of the cosmos, for if we become one with the cosmos, what we love in the cosmos is simply an idealized image of ourselves. An idealized self-image is also what attracts the aging lecher to the adolescent boy. (Aug 11, '08)

Israeli pre-emption better than Islamist cure
The critical mass of three Islamist states - Iran, Turkey and Pakistan - threatens to create an upheaval that can be contained only by wars of attrition. The outlook is grim, not least because the US State Department is repeating in Turkey the errors that helped bring Islamist governments to power in Iran and Pakistan. Israel is the only player with the perspicacity and power to stop the slide towards regional war. (Aug 4, '08)

Why do nations exist?
The sovereign nation-state as defined by ethnicity and language might be a flawed experiment, Spengler speculates after studying new books by noted thinkers Jean Bethke Elshtain and Wayne Cristaudo. Perhaps the future of the world lies in the supra-ethnic state, represented in quite different ways by the United States, China and India. (Jul 28, '08)

Turkey in the throes of Islamic revolution?
A perfect storm of enmity has come down on beleaguered Turkish secularists, leading to speculation that an Islamic putsch is possible, after the fashion of the 1979 revolution in Iran. The United States views this Islamic drift favorably, seeing Turkey as a leader of a regional bloc with the short-term aim of calming Iraq and a longer-term objective of fostering a Sunni alliance against Iran. This is a big mistake. (Jul 21, '08)

Midnight in the kindergarten
of good and evil

The invention of gadgets that show us which neurons light up when we think happy thoughts has convinced some secular thinkers that they have found the solution to a problem unsolved by thousands of years of philosophical speculation. (Jul 14, '08)

America's special grace
To much of the world, America is the source of the plague of globalization, the bane of the environment and the perpetrator of imperial adventures. To hundreds of millions of others it is an object of special grace - as in the grace by which God redeems, sanctifies and glorifies his people. Whether one subscribes to the concept or not, America is one of world's great dividing lines, perhaps its most important. (Jul 7, '08)

How to stop the Great Crash of '08
The United States can still break out of its economic death spiral. Tax changes and higher interest rates are a start. And let overseas funds buy American banks. While investors are waiting for that to happen - it won't - they would do best to sit back and watch the horrors unfold. (Jun 30, '08)

Worst of times for Iran
Despite a surge in oil revenues, Iran's Islamic kleptocracy has pushed conditions in the country to the point of Dickensian poverty. The prices of ordinary goods are soaring out of people's reach, property values in Tehran are equal to those of Paris, and prostitutes and profiteers are everywhere. Not only the theft of the oil windfall, but the manner of the heft, is making President Mahmud Adhmadinejad's tenure the worst of times for Iran. (Jun 23, '08)

The pope, the president and politics of faith
As incongruous as it may appear, Pope Benedict XVI and US President George W Bush are kindred spirits. Despite his position on Iraq, Benedict's critics within the church regard him as a warrior as dangerous as the US president. Bush denounces "Islamo-facism", while Muslims suspect the pope wants to convert them, a threat they never have had to confront in Islam's 1,500-year history. (Jun 16, '08)

The day the slacker died
Like the feckless Kung Fu Panda, America's youth think slacking is an entitlement and that in two easy lessons they will be masters of the universe. Sorry, dudes, things changed last Friday. Instead of a four-year party at university, you will work during the day, go to night school, and save for a dozen years to buy your first house. You will not complain about boring jobs and oppressive bosses, you will feel grateful to have the work - as will your parents, who will have to postpone retirement for 10 years.
(Jun 9, '08)

Tin-opener theology from Turkey
There has been much praise for Turkey's so-called Islamic reformation, a government-mandated move to modernize the faith and "fashion a new Islam". Too bad it's all just a tempest in an ibrik and a triumph of hope over fact-checking. (Jun 2, '08)

Life and death in the Bible
The power of God for Christians and Jews by Kevin J Madigan and Jon D Levenson
Theology should reclaim its lost throne as queen of the sciences because it is a guide to the issues that decide the life and death of nations. In this splendid book, the authors have done an enormous service to their own and to many other disciplines by clarifying the Biblical understanding of life and death. (May 27, '08)

The monster and the sausages
Call it the missing "link" in deciphering German President Horst Koehler's denouncement of the world financial market as a monster for making "massive leveraged investments with minimal capital". Think of a sausage: the gross parts of a pig are ground into an appetizing package. Just don't blame the sausage-maker, Koehler, when it is time for financial heartburn.
(May 19, '08)

Why Israel is the world's happiest country
At the 60th anniversary of its founding, it could be said that Israel is the happiest nation on Earth. It is one of the wealthiest, freest and best-educated; and it enjoys high fertility and life expectancy rates. The light heart of the Israelis in face of continuous danger is a singularity worthy of a closer look. (May 12, '08)

The heart has its own unreason
In one of the weirder acts of recent diplomacy, a delegation of robed and turbaned Iranian mullahs went to Rome to declare with due solemnity they shared the pope's view that reason and faith are compatible. The eventual outcome of the meeting will not be decided by the Iranian clergy or the Holy See, but by people such as journalist Magdi Allam, who converted from Islam to Catholicism. (May 5, '08)

Rice, death and the dollar
For developing countries whose currencies track the US dollar and whose purchasing power declines along with the American unit, catastrophe looms. So China, for example, is exchanging its depreciating reserves of the greenback for things of value, notably rice, with frightening consequences for dependent countries and deadly consequences for American foreign policy. (Apr 21, '08)

Ehud Olmert on the Damascus road
Guerilla movements require arms, money and intelligence from sympathetic states. Hamas and Hezbollah would represent no threat to Israel without the backing of Syria and Iran. Military and political logic requires Israel to attack their sponsors, rather than their militants embedded among civilians. Iran is hard to reach, but Syria is a sitting duck. (Apr 14, '08)

Horror and humiliation in Chicago
There is an uncanny parallel between young African-Americans of today and the young white men of the slave-holding South in 1865. The appalling numbers of violent deaths and suffering among both groups have spawned two genres of American pop culture, which both try to turn the dead into folk-heroes. But this is unfortunate, for America has a great deal of killing still to do around the world, and might as well get used to it. (Apr 7, '08)

The mustard seed in global strategy
With Pope Benedict's baptism of Magdi Allam, a prominent Muslim-born journalist who converted to Catholicism during Easter services, the global agenda is changed through the soul of a single man. Since September 2001, the would-be wizards of Western strategy have tried to conjure variations of Islamic "reform" or "democracy". None of this matters now, for as Magdi Allam tells us, the matter is not to persuade Muslims to act like liberal Westerners, but to convince them to cease to be Muslims. (Mar 25, '08)

The peculiar theology of black liberation
US presidential nominee candidate Barack Obama belongs to a Christian church whose doctrine casts Jesus Christ as a "black messiah" and blacks as "the chosen people". At best, this is a radically different kind of Christianity than most Americans acknowledge; at worst it is an ethnocentric heresy. (Mar 21, '08)

Should Islam be blamed for 'barbaric' acts?
The issue of Muslim "barbarism", including honor killings, genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women, has risen in prominence in Europe 's political agenda. The question appears to be: Do Muslims commit barbaric acts because they are bad Muslims or because they are good Muslims? (Mar 10, '08)

Sing, o muse, the wrath of Michelle
The release of Michelle Obama's undergraduate thesis from Princeton has revealed more about the woman who could be America's First Lady. Complete with rage and guilt it is, among many things, a poignant cry from the heart of a young black woman from a working-class Chicago home. It also furthers the supposition that her wrath could keep her husband from the White House. (Mar 3, '08)

Obama's women reveal his secret
The public knows less about Barack Obama than any other presidential hopeful in American history. His career bears no trace of his character, and he increasingly appears to be an empty vessel filled with the wishful thinking of those around him. But there is a real Barack Obama - a man shaped by the imprint of an impassioned mother, and the influence of a brilliant wife. Ultimately, the probable next president is a mother's revenge against the America she despised. (Feb 25, '08)

Blessed are the pre-emptors
Geert Wilders is drawing violent jihadists out of the tall grass with his movie denouncing the Koran. Along with courageous author Ayaan Hirsi Ali he also further exposes the moral bankruptcy of European governments that refuse to learn the lesson of John Brown - the importance of pre-emptive action against those who contest legitimate governments' monopoly of violence. (Feb 19, '08)

Europe in the house of war
Not since World War II has British opinion been as outraged as it is over the Archbishop of Canterbury's prediction that Muslim sharia law will eventually by accepted in Great Britain. Rowan Williams' exercise in what might be termed the Higher Hypocrisy shows how deeply Europe has descended into all that lies outside the "house of submission". (Feb 11, '08)

Yes, Romney, there's a Sanity Clause
Despite his recent reminder that America's constitution prohibits a religious test, voters have every right to question the former Massachusetts governor's Mormon faith. Sure, Romney should be judged on his own merits, not on the dubious history of his church, but does he believe that he himself will become God, as Mormon doctrine preaches? (Feb 4, '08)

Obama bin lottery
Senator Barak Obama's thumping win in the South Carolina primary may prove to be a turning point in modern American politics. Is it a coincidence it occurred in the same week that financial markets showed their craziest gyrations since World War II? Comparisons with Ronald Reagan abound, but if the Gipper offered "voodoo economics", Obama is pitching its Cargo Cult cousin. (Jan 28, '08)

Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code 
An archive of ancient Islamic manuscripts thought destroyed by British bombing in 1944 has resurfaced, and scholars suspect it will confirm evidence unearthed 25 years ago in Yemen that the Koran circulated in several versions. It's dizzying stuff: crafty academics, ancient relics, religious leaders and Nazis. It also poses existential questions for Islam.
(Jan 14, '08)

Putin for president ... of the United States 
Forget Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. There's still time to amend the constitution, naturalize him as a citizen and elect the only sensible choice for the next US president - Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. He has restored Russia's battered economy and global stature and he used a divide-and-conquer strategy to subdue Chechnya. His ruthless means are worthy of Cardinal Richelieu and the US could do a lot worse. (Jan 7, '08)

At the Creation and at the manger
'Tis the season for children around the world to dress up as oxen, sheep and donkeys to take part in Christmas pageants. But what of the real animals that apocryphally adored the Christ child, and the correct intuition that placed them at the manger? And what is it that makes us different from those animals? (Dec 21, '07)

Iran: The wrong options on the table
The neo-conservatives "idealists" in the US had an easy , neat and plausible solution to the Middle East in the form of exporting democracy to the region. They were wrong. Similarly, the "realists", who, judging by the recent intelligence estimate on Iran, are in the ascendancy in the Bush administration, have a neat and easy solution - balance of power and deterrence. They are also wrong. There will not be a happy ending.  (Dec 10, '07)

Hirsi Ali, atheism and Islam
Muslim apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of several high-profile such people to have gravitated towards atheism. She is unequivocal that the West is - or should be - at war with Islam. The reasons she has chosen atheism are less clear, but, contrary to superficial impressions, Islam is much closer in character to atheism than to Christianity or Judaism. (Dec 3, '07)

Non compus POTUS
Shadow Warriors by Kenneth R Timmerman Intelligence is an adjunct of war-fighting; it cannot compensate for a failed plan. Former US president Ronald Reagan won the intelligence war against the Soviet Union, while George W Bush is losing in the Middle East, because Reagan's overall war strategy was successful, while the Bush strategy is flawed. Instead of finding demons in the US intelligence world to blame for Bush's failure, author Timmerman would do better to study some basic precepts of logic. (Nov 26, '07)

Israel, the hope of the Muslim world
The state of Israel embodies the last, best chance for the Islamic world to come to terms with the modern world, precisely because it constitutes a humiliation to Muslims. (Nov 19, '07)

Why Iran is dying for a fight
Iran's declining fertility rate is likely to usher in a new era of stability, argues Prof Philip Jenkins. It does not seem to have occurred to him that things which make peace inevitable in the long run may propel countries into war in the short run. (Nov 12, '07)

Inside story of the Western mind
Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians by Fergus Kerr
America's "war on terror" proceeds from a political philosophy that treats radical Islam as if it were a political movement - "Islamo-fascism" - rather than a truly religious response to the West. Few Western leaders comprehend this, and by default, the only effective leader of the West, the man who has drawn the line in the sand, is Pope Benedict XVI. For those who are concerned about the West's future, this book is a godsend. (Nov 5, '07)

When you can't deal with the devil
The West has no choice but to attack Iran, as the last chance of making a deal with the devil has passed. It would have been better to have attacked a year ago, as now it will be a case of war with Iran on the worst terms. All President George W Bush can hope to do is to make it considerably worse for others than for the United States. (Oct 29, '07)

Why does Turkey hate America?
Washington's misguided promotion of Turkey as a model of "moderate Islam" has enraged both the Islamist camp and the secular Kemalists. Likewise, the spectacle of Washington trying to squelch a US congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide points up fundamental failings in US foreign policy, the stupidity of which is in large measure responsible for a looming catastrophe. (Oct 22, '07)

Turkey fears Kurds, not Armenians
“We did not exterminate the Armenians,” Ankara says in effect, “and, by the way, we’re going to not exterminate the Kurds, too.” Turkey’s threat to invade northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels is linked to its outrage over a US Congressional resolution recognizing that Turkey committed genocide against its Armenian population in 1915. Why the Turks should take out their rancour at the US on the Kurds might seem anomalous until we consider that the issue of Armenian genocide has become a proxy for Turkey’s future disposition towards the Kurds. (Oct 15, '07) 

The devil and Alan Greenspan
Former US Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan points a finger at credit rating agencies for not knowing what they were doing and causing the crisis in the financial world. It might just as well have been the devil, for the world deserves just that sort of imp for its sloth, complacency and humbug. Either way, Americans have to learn they cannot surf the wave of the world's savings forever, and Asians must learn that they cannot avoid risk by placing their savings in America. (Oct 1, '07)

National extinction and natural law
Languages, and the cultures they represent, are becoming extinct with a rapidity never before seen, but even more remarkable is that this self-immolation is largely voluntary - human cultures all over the planet are resisting the urge to self-propagate. It is no coincidence that in the global South, we also see the fastest rate of Christian evangelization in history. (Sep 24, '07)

It's easy for the Jews to talk about life
Life as such is not that likable, yet the standard Jewish toast states, "To life!" The Jews' love of life is a product of the Covenant, which they see as having kept this tiny people alive despite the onslaught of empires, and later the enmity of the Jewish state's Muslim neighbors. In effect the Jews' - and the State of Israel's - success is a driver for Christian evangelism in the global South. (Sep 17, '07)

The discreet charm of US diplomacy
America's miserable performance in Iraq should not obscure the success of Washington's efforts to align the West against Tehran. France, under its new president, is only the latest to make clear that it will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, and even the ayatollahs are taking notice of the Western front united around the US. The chances of avoiding war with Iran are still slim, though. (Sep 10, '07)

Western grasshoppers and Chinese ants
Unlike Americans, Asians are great savers, and in recent years they - especially the Chinese - have chosen to put their savings into the once-great US economic engine. But US financial engineering has tried to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and it is a purse that still goes "oink" when opened. If the US wants to remain the magnet for world capital flows, it will have to allow the savers of the world to become partners in the US economy, that is, to buy into its first-rank companies. (Sep 4, '07)

The biblical world of Luis Bunuel
A surrealist and fellow-traveler of the Spanish Communist Party who abandoned the Catholic Church as an adolescent, the great Spanish director might seem the one least likely to succeed at religious cinema. Yet his 1969 masterpiece The Milky Way, newly released on DVD, makes every other film on Christian themes seem dispirited by comparison. If you don't laugh at the jokes, you probably don't believe a word of what you profess. (Aug 27, '07) 

It must be the end of secularism ...
... It's in the New York Times! In a despairing vision of the political future, a Columbia University professor opines that secular liberalism stands helpless before a new century of religious wars. But he cannot bear to surrender to Western Christians; instead, he proposes to surrender to the Muslims. (Aug 20, '07)

Christianity finds a fulcrum in Asia
China is poised to become a driving force on yet another front, one that would have seemed impossible just a brief while ago: the global spread of Christianity. By the middle of this century, Chinese may comprise the world's largest concentration of Christians, and the largest missionary force in history. If democracy is ever to flourish in China, it will be at the behest of its fearless grassroots evangelists. (Aug 6, '07)

In defense of genocide, redux
It is a measure of how much the world has changed since September 11, 2001, that the prospect of genocide shocks neither right nor left. Indeed, genocide was the norm, not the exception, in the formative years of modern Europe and America, and it will likely dominate the modern formation of the Middle East as well. Still, genocide is not inevitable. (Jul 23, '07)

What they didn't say at Kennebunkport
No doubt Vladimir Putin's visit at the Bush family compound in Maine was a cordial affair; a practical man like the Russian president would not waste words explaining the unexplainable to someone as uncomprehending as his American counterpart. But it is sobering to imagine how the conversation might go if Putin were to tell George W Bush the unvarnished truth. (Jul 2, '07)

I told you so, essentially
"Essentialism" is the view that a people or country displays "essential" characteristics that it can change no more than a leopard can change its spots. While this mindset feeds stereotypes and is derided by postmodern scholars, in some cases nothing else makes sense. The Palestinians, for example, have no reason to be there, and so eventually will not be. This is not only predictable, it has been predicted - right here. (Jun 18, '07)

The faith that dare not speak its name
While cloaking themselves in revealed religion, "presentable" Islamists such as academic Tariq Ramadan are in fact neo-pagans. Pagan society is "totalitarian" in character, subsuming the individual into the group and promoting a culture of death. (Jun 11, '07)

Why Iran will fight, not compromise
Massive inflation, even more massive unemployment especially among the nation's young, and official economic statistics so distressing that the president insists they are fabricated by his political enemies - that is the sad story of today's Iran. There are very few ways out of this mess, and the most likely scenario is a new Persian imperial adventure. (May 29, '07) 

Those pesky puppies of war
Persians are chess players, and recent geopolitical setbacks and internal rivalries do not imply that the Iranians have abandoned the game. Real conflict, however, is not a chessboard - the pawns have an unpleasant tendency to move on their own. Trivialities have started devastating wars before, and may well do so again. (May 21, '07)

The Koranic quotations trap
Islam-bashing, whether justified or not, is a waste of time. Critics may well argue that the Koran is an incoherent muddle, and scholars may avoid the entire issue because of threats of violence from fanatics, but the argument is beside the point. A religion is not a text but a life. (May 14, '07)

Are the Arabs already extinct?
Adonis, the only Arabic writer on the Nobel Prize short list, claims that the Arab people, despite its numbers, has like the Sumerians and the Pharaohs before it died out, for it "no longer has a creative capacity, and the capacity to change its world". He thus helps explain the remarkable willingness of Arabs to kill themselves to inflict harm on their enemies. (May 7, '07)

Why you pretend to like modern art
We all - especially if we do not believe in a Creator - want to be seen as creative, which nearly all of us are not. Are modern artists creative? Modern art could not have succeeded without drawing on the patronage of the wealthy, and very rich people like to flatter themselves that they are geniuses. In a realm of self-worshipping "creativity", art descends into extreme levels of artlessness. (Apr 30, '07)

Tolkien's Christianity and the pagan tragedy
The Children of Hurin, by J R R Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien J R R Tolkien was the most Christian of 20th-century writers, because he uniquely portrayed the tragic nature of the paganism that Christianity replaced. This book, begun in Tolkien's youth and diligently reconstructed by his son, is set 6,000 years before The Lord of the Rings and sheds light on that famous work's greater purpose. (Apr 23, '07)

The inconvenient Serbs
Washington's perverse push for independence for Kosovo to appease its Sunni Arab allies in the Middle East is a prescription for disaster. The best solution would be to take the minority Christian regions of northern Kosovo and attach them to Serbia proper. Muslim Kosovo could then seek its own destiny. (Apr 16, '07)

Cherry blossoms, the beautiful and the good
The Japanese ritual of hanami - cherry-blossom viewing - coincides this year with the Western feasts of Easter and Passover. Thus we see with clarity the stark differences between Western and Eastern world views. Japanese culture makes everything into art. Yet appreciation for beauty does not alone make one good; Hitler, after all, loved Beethoven. (Apr 2, '07)

The Most Un-Islamic Republic of Persia
Iran's tantrum over the portrayal of the 5th-century BC Persian Empire in the film 300 is very Persian, but not at all Islamic. Iran's new imperial ambitions inspire its impassioned defense of the ancient Persian Empire, whose demise the Koran clearly celebrated.(Mar 26, '07)

Why God lies and sex objects object to sex
Across ages and cultures, women universally are said to be more libidinous than men. Yet many Western women, especially in the US, agree with author Joan Sewell that they'd "rather eat chocolate" than have sex. The supposed sexual freedom of modern secular culture objectifies women, and eventually disgusts them. (Mar 19, '07)

Europe is not the sum of its parts
"Europe is the faith, the faith is Europe." The fact that European nations exist in opposition to Europe itself - as seen in the inability to agree a European constitution - is not a measure of Europe's political maturity but rather of its decadence. It was the Church, not nationalism, that gave birth to Europe, and its salvation may come not from Brussels but from its eastern perimeter. (Mar 12, '07)

Snatching war out of the jaws of peace
A three-way tragedy of errors is in progress, whereby Iran, Russia and the US are all misreading one another's messages and intentions. Opportunities to avert war between the US and Iran have been missed at every turn, and Moscow and Tehran have failed to understand that the US can and will act to forefend a nuclear-armed Iran, alone if need be. Stupidity and arrogance have made war the most probable scenario. (Mar 5, '07)

Russia's hudna with the Muslim world
Despite Vladimir Putin's recent harsh words against US national-security policy and his cozying up with the Saudis, Russia does not propose to ally with the Muslim world against the United States. Putin's initiative should be thought of as a hudna, a brief truce in a long war against the decline of non-Muslim European Russia. Hence the installation of strongman Ramzan Kadyrov as acting president of Chechnya. (Feb 20, '07)

The lighter side of national extinction
Laughter at death is found in many literary examples, and in films such as Monty Python's Life of Brian. We can do this because most of us - including atheists - believe in immortality, in one form or other. The death of an entire culture, people, nation or language, however, is less of a laughing matter. There is no consolation in being the last Mohican.(Feb 12, '07)

Hopeless, but not serious
If individuals or indeed entire peoples are determined to destroy themselves, as they clearly are in Iraq and Palestine, it is extremely difficult to prevent them from doing so. And while such self-destruction is tragic on a human level, it makes little real difference to anyone outside the conflict, and certainly not to Western markets. (Feb 5, '07)

Admit it - you really hate modern art
The ideological message is the same, yet the galleries are full, while the concert halls are empty. That is because you can keep art at a safe distance when it hangs on the wall, but you can't escape it when it crawls into your ears. In other words, your visceral hatred of atonal music reflects your true, healthy, reaction to abstract art. In the same way, you may admire communism - but you wouldn't want to actually live in Moscow. (Jan 29, '07)

Faith and risk in the Cold War
The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister by John O'Sullivan
This account of the Western victory over communism should have a place in the medicine cabinet of every literate family, as an antidote to stultifying academic drivel and self-serving bureaucratic memoirs. Who could have predicted that a broken-down movie star, a grocer's daughter, and a Polish priest would become the protagonists of the great conflict of the 20th century's second half? (Jan 22, '07)

Jimmy Carter's heart of dorkiness
The same sanctimonious ineptitude that made Jimmy Carter the least successful president in US history has prompted him to wager the remains of his reputation on advocacy for the Palestinians, precisely when the Palestinians have shown themselves to be their own worst enemies. It all points to a parallel between the saga of the US south and that of Palestine. (Jan 16, '07)

If you so dumb, how come you ain't poor?
There has been an inordinate amount written about US decline, complete with Russian and Chinese designs to benefit from America's embarrassment in Iraq. The reality could not be more different. The US holds all the economic aces, and civil carnage in Iraq and Palestine works to Washington's advantage as it counters Iran. (Jan 8, '07)

Jeb Bush in 2008?
Largely because of the foreign-policy fiascoes that have plagued his presidency, George W Bush has endured a negative turnabout in popularity even worse than that experienced by his father. But a year is a lifetime in US politics. If George W can focus his foreign policy where it matters - China and Russia - fortunes could once again favor the Bush dynasty. (Jan 2, '07)

Sympathy for Scrooge
Christmas is not the quintessential Christian holiday; Easter, which celebrates Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, is. At Christmas Gentiles become children of the world, and their affinity for the occasion is the most natural thing in the world. Jews are too old to revel in the adoration of a child, which in a way is a cross they have to bear. (Dec 15, '06)

A new Jerusalem in sub-Saharan Africa
The New Faces of Christianity by Philip Jenkins
Westerners have spent the past 400 years in a grand effort to make the world seem orderly and reasonable without, however, quite suppressing the strangeness and wonder of life. Now come the new Christians of the Southern Hemisphere, choosing Christianity over Islam, who confound enlightened Western prejudice.
(Dec 11, '06)

Civil wars or proxy wars?

The emergence of an Iranian threat to Saudi Arabia has dropped the Palestine problem to the bottom of the Arab priority list, and the Palestinians will become cannon fodder in a proxy war. As long as Iran does not go nuclear, the Sunnis and Shi'ites will fight a war of attrition, fueled and prolonged from outside. (Dec 4, '06)

Jihadis and whores
A nation is never really defeated until it sells its women, and Iran is doing that in great numbers, at least abroad and probably within the Islamic Republic as well (thanks to penny-a-marriage mullahs). Prostitution is a form of collective suicide, and indeed, prostitutes are sometimes used as suicide bombers. Trafficking of women and trans-migration of jihadis go hand in hand. (Nov 20, '06)

Halloween came late in Washington
President George W Bush has conjured up the undead in the form of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group and new defense secretary Robert M Gates. Like all ghosts, they are condemned to reenact the delinquencies of their past lives, and just as they got it hopelessly wrong about the Soviet Union, they will do the same about Iran. (Nov 13, '06)

Lessons from classical warfare
In Alexander's day, whole civilizations melted away before the onslaught of superior forces. The great error of Western policy and well-meaning American Christians is to imagine that anything fundamental has changed. (Nov 6, '06)

The fallen bridge over the Bosporus
Exiled Turkish writer (and now Nobel laureate) Orhan Pamuk, who once waxed eloquent on his homeland as a bridge between Asia and Europe, is himself a victim of the failure of that bridge. Turkey's Western loyalties were founded on a secular nationalism that sought to bury Islam under modernizing reforms. Pamuk evinces profound sympathy for the Islamic loyalties of the Turkish poor, as well as the terrible attraction that political Islam holds for Turkey's disappointed elite. (Oct 30, '06)

Frailty, thy name is Tehran
It is silly to portray the United States as a declining imperial power, but the word "decline"  hardly begins to describe what is happening to the leftovers of imperial design in the Middle East, including the would-be Persian Empire. The US needs to stop treating the Middle East conflict as an Iraqi matter and extend it to the whole region, beginning with Iran. (Oct 23, '06)

Reason to believe, or not
Pope Benedict XVI's controversial address of September 12, in which he stated that Islam rejects reason, caused an outcry. In response, 38 Islamic leaders have signed an open letter to him, in which they state that there is no dichotomy in Islam between reason and faith. Spengler reasons that the letter shows the pope is right. (Oct 17, '06)

Not what it was, but what it does
Western policy toward the Muslim world appears stupid and clumsy because its theological foundations are flawed. It is not what it is, nor what it was, but rather what it does that defines a religion: How does a faith address the paramount concern of human mortality, and what action does it require of its adherents? No one gets this right, not the neo-cons, not the left, not even the pope. (Oct 2, '06)

What do you do with all the farmers?
In every era, economic and industrial upheaval has resulted in mass redundancies and human displacement, creating hardship and, more often than not, war. China has demonstrated an almost unique ability to handle the massive migration that has accompanied its economic transformation, but its success is both good and bad news for the rest of the developing world. War on a horrifying scale remains all too possible. (Sep 25, '06)

Jihad, the Lord's Supper, and eternal life
Pope Benedict XVI's denunciation of jihad on theological grounds is a blow at the foundations of Islam, in effect a papal call for the conversion of Muslims. The Islamic world now views the pontiff as an existential threat, for jihad is the fundamental sacrament of Islam, the Muslim cognate of the Lord's Supper in Christianity, that is, the unique form of sacrifice by which the believer attains eternal life. (Sep 18, '06) 

By insisting that the Bible must be taken "literally", many evangelical Christians condemn themselves to the same sort of silliness that infects other Americans. They claim to accept the Bible's authority, while in fact they are accepting the authority of the ignoramus who reads it superficially. (Sep 11, '06)

Sistani and the end of Islam
Warning that he "no longer has power to save Iraq from civil war", Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has withdrawn from politics. But the "moderating influence" Sistani is purported to have had on the chaos in US-occupied Iraq is overblown, and the shift in Shi'ite alliance to the Iranian-controlled warlord Muqtada al-Sadr reflects how desperate Muslims are to save their faith. (Sep 7, '06)

American Idolatry
No other nation rejects the notion of a high culture with such vehemence, or celebrates the mediocre with such giddiness, as the US. Thus the popularity of the self-pitying drone of country music, followed by the resentful adolescence of rock 'n' roll, all culminating in the actual idolatry of the mediocre on a popular television program. America's evangelicals should be able to rise above all this, but have failed to do so. (Aug 28, '06)

The peacekeepers of Penzance
Dwindling birth rates have turned Europeans into the walking dead, which goes a long way toward explaining why they are so reluctant to send troops to Lebanon: a people without progeny will not accept a single military casualty. Europe's role, then, is irrelevant: all that matters is the coming confrontation between the United States and Iran. (Aug 21, '06)

Devil dislikes the stink of brimstone
Iran's complaint that the US has thrown the Middle East into chaos in order to reshape the region is a man-bites-camel story. True, Israel's onslaught on Lebanon has presented its ally the US with a geostrategic opportunity, but it's doubtful that President George W Bush has either the brains or the stomach to press America's advantage. (Jul 31, '06)

Fight a democracy, kill the people
A real war - that is, a war that is fought to a decisive conclusion - finally may have begun in the Middle East. It is easy to say that the war between Israel and Hezbollah has unleashed chaos, but the question is: Upon whom? (Jul 24, '06)

The Gumps of August
US policy has turned to dust and ashes, and President George W Bush resembles the slow-witted Everyman traipsing oblivious through great events in Forrest Gump - but without the lucky streak of that 1994 film's protagonist. The proposition that democracy could thrive in Lebanon under current circumstances is just one US self-delusion coming to disastrous fruition. And a US attack on Iran is the inevitable consequence. (Jul 17, '06)

Cry havoc, and let slip the puppies of war
Iran's power rests on its ability to threaten destabilization, especially in Iraq, and Tehran is counting on this to keep the Bush administration at bay over its nuclear program. The old dogs in Tehran will (even if they could) do nothing to satisfy the deeply felt and long-frustrated aspirations of their pups in Baghdad's Sadr City. Escalation of tensions is inevitable. (Jul 10, '06)

The fraud of primitive authenticity
Popular culture portrays primitive peoples such as native Americans and tribal Africans as peace-loving folk living in harmony with nature, as opposed to their rapacious and brutal reality. A new book debunks the warm and fuzzy popular myth, and reminds us of the precarious existence of the few remaining primitive races. But we also think of another imperiled species: the American post-Christian. (Jul 3, '06)

Prisoner's dilemma in Tehran
As US Republicans nervously eye the calendar and congressional elections get nearer, and Tehran nervously watches the situation in Iraq unravel, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has no choice but to play for time, and the White House to feign impatience. It's an unstable game that cannot last. The result: August will be a very interesting month. (Jun 26, '06)

You don't need to be apocalyptic, but it helps
Standing with Israel by David Brog
The importance of evangelical End Time beliefs in shaping US attitudes toward Israel disturbs enlightened world opinion, and this book will inflame these concerns. Still, this work is of great use both to critics and to supporters of US policy. Jews and evangelical Christians are on parallel and complementary - although utterly different - paths. (Jun 19, '06)

Military destiny and madness in Iran
Both US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki sincerely believe that a compromise is in their mutual interest. Nonetheless, they will fail - for Iran is driven by strategic mysticism, and when there is no retreat, nothing to which to return, the army leaves its trenches and flies forward into the cannons. (Jun 5, '06)

The Da Vinci Code's success secret
Why should an American novel depicting Christianity as a hoax command such a readership while Christian faith is resurgent? People wallow in doubt only because they begin with the premise of faith, and author Dan Brown struck a nerve by linking the epitome of Western genius to doubts about the authenticity of Christian revelation. (May 30, '06)

This time the crocodile won't wait
Londonistan by Melanie Phillips
Britain, the author warns, is reaping what it has sown. A large minority of British Muslims are disaffected at best and seditious at worst. The West inevitably faces a religious war with Islam, and this book provides indispensable background to why this is so, and why the warnings are unheeded, as were warnings in the leadup to World War II. (May 22, '06)

Put a stake through Freud's heart
On the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sigmund Freud, it is worth remembering that no one did more to reduce women to sexual objects, a condition against which women rebel by seeking to destroy the objectified body. Epidemic self-destructiveness has reached proportions that are difficult to grasp. (May 8, '06)

Why war comes when no one wants it
Neither Washington nor Tehran wants military confrontation. Nevertheless it will come, just as many great wars came despite the desire of the belligerents to avoid them. If Washington delays, it will risk a conflagration in the Middle East at least as terrible as the one that hit Europe in 1914. (May 1, '06)

Katrina and China's whirlwind growth
China's spectacular economic growth arises from the mass migration of poor people from the depressed interior to the vibrant coastal cities. On a smaller scale, Hurricane Katrina has displaced New Orleans' poor to more prosperous areas. The best thing the US could do for the poor people of its urban ghettos is to expel them. Not that it would do the culture much good. (Apr 24, '06)

Bush's October surprise - it's coming
Things may not look too bright for the US president right now, but George W Bush is poised for the strongest political comeback of any US politician since Abraham Lincoln. Republicans will triumph in November's congressional elections because by then Bush will have bombed Iran's nuclear installations, and Americans will rally around him again. (Apr 10, '06)

Cat and mouse with Muslim paranoia
According to an adviser to the Iranian culture minister, the cartoon Tom and Jerry was the result of a Jewish conspiracy. That, like most paranoid conspiracy theories, is nonsense, but it is true that the Hanna-Barbera cartoon not only distorted reality but forbade desirable outcomes. The US must turn the tables on Iran - Tom must finally eat Jerry. (Apr 3, '06)

The West in an Afghan mirror
Philistine hypocrisy pervades Western denunciations of Islamic law and the Afghan court that may well have hanged the Christian convert Abdul Rahman. Death everywhere and always is the penalty for apostasy, in Islam and every other faith, and the practice of killing heretics has nothing to do with what differentiates Islam from Christianity or Judaism. (Mar 27, '06)

Memo to China: Careful what you wish for
Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher
A generation from now, hundreds of millions of Chinese will have lived with prosperity long enough to ask whether there is more to life than shopping. This book will leave them wondering whether the US is a role model, a horrible example, or a bit of both. (Mar 20, '06)

I learned to stop worrying and love chaos
Pessimism has become unfashionable in the United States but like it or not, the US faces the specter of chaos, and cannot do anything to forestall it. The only question is what to do about it, and not only are America's pundits in deep denial on the point, the US has the wrong sort of military to engage the enemies it currently confronts. (Mar 13, '06)

The case for complacency in Iraq
No country fears civil war in Iraq more than Iran, which has been able to use the threat of a Shi'ite uprising as leverage against the United States. And a stable, constitutional, Shi'ite-dominated government in Baghdad is in the US's worst interest: the Iranization of the country would be inevitable. So all in all, what's happening in that hell-hole, Iraq, right now could be seen by Washington as a gift - from the devil. (Feb 27, '06)

Devil's sourdough and the decline of nations
When life's pains are too much to swallow, even deeply religious people forget how to laugh, and thereby the existence of a whole culture can fall into jeopardy. Even Jews, whose sense of humor is famous, may as well be Catholics if they forget how to joke; what, then, is to become of the Muslims? (Feb 21, '06)

War with Iran on the worst terms
Iran cannot be persuaded to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The government cannot be overthrown or derailed. But militarily, it can be beaten handily. Washington is unwilling to act now for various compelling reasons, but war is inevitable and the longer it's put off, the worse it will be. (Feb 13, '06)

Why can't Muslims take a joke?
The Jyllens-Posten cartoon affair is even worse than it looks. With freedom of choice and access to information come doubt. Christianity and Judaism are bloodied - indeed, drained almost dry - by nearly two centuries of scriptural criticism; Islam's turn barely has begun. (Feb 6, '06)

No true Scotsman starts a war
Since "the power of democracy", in the Bush idiom, is necessary for peace in the Middle East, the democratic election of Hamas in Palestine presents a paradox. In fact, contrary to American dogma, history proves that democracies are just as capable of starting wars as dictatorships. The way out is to distinguish between "emerging" and "true" democracies. (Jan 30, '06)

Why the West will attack Iran
From Jacques Chirac to Mohamed ElBaradei, the Western establishment has rapidly formed a consensus on the eventual use of force against Iran. This is because Tehran's quest for nuclear weapons is based on its goal of imperial expansion through energy-rich Southwest Asia, something the West and its allies will do anything to prevent. (Jan 23, '06)

When even the pope has to whisper
Islam was founded as a theocracy, and the values the US hopes to impose in the Middle East are alien to that culture. But can Islam reform and embrace democratic ideals? No less a man than Pope Benedict XVI has said he does not believe so, but even for him the very suggestion is one that must be made quietly. (Jan 9, '06)

Victor Davis Hanson goes to the seashore
As shown ages ago by Athens' suicidal Peloponnesian War, democracy does not necessarily promote peace and stability. The Greek historian Thucydides understood this tragedy, but Hanson, purveyor of White House bedside reading, strives to exonerate democracy by finding alternative explanations for the Athenians' disaster. George W Bush should be careful what he wishes for in the Middle East. (Jan 3, '06)

When self-immolation is a rational choice
Why do political leaders believe that democracy fosters peace, despite examples that a broad electorate can be as bellicose as the most bloodthirsty tyrant? Look at the American civil war, the result of Southerners electing Jefferson Davis for what might be termed rational reasons. Now look at Iran, where Mahmud Ahmadinejad has been elected for similar reasons. (Dec 19, '05)

The gay, the bad and the Israeli
Liberal Hollywood is the heart of America's Democratic Party, and its offerings for the Christmas season explain why the opposition to the present administration remains weaker even than the flailing White House. Steven Spielberg's Munich - a Palestinian "prayer for peace" - and Ang Lee's gay cowboy film are as limp as the opposition. (Dec 12, '05)

Iran's strength in weakness
President Mahmud Ahmedinejad is acutely aware of the weakness - indeed hoplessness in the longer term - of Iran's position. Much like Adolf Hitler, who bluffed a weak hand into a nearly winning game, he evinces a superior cunning born of the knowledge that he has nothing to lose. So Iran is already close to gaining control of Iraq's oil-rich Shi'ite regions, and continues its nuclear program, as the US approaches Tehran cap in hand. (Dec 5, '05)

Indispensable guide for global theopolitics

The Star of Redemption
by Franz Rosenzweig

With the return of religion to world politics, today's intellectual elite feels something like Marx's mad Englishman in a lunatic asylum. To such perplexed people, this book, in a new English translation, is recommended, but with a caveat: it might cure them of secularism. (Nov 21, '05)

Why Western governments fall apart
The punditry dismisses US President George W Bush as dumb, British Prime Minister Tony Blair as smarmy, President Jacques Chirac as arrogant and Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as bent. But they are not the reason the West cannot field a single functioning government. It's the people who elected them into office who are the problem. (Nov 14, '05)

PART 1: Statistical evidence
Negotiating the demographic decline of the 21st century will be treacherous for countries that have proven their capacity to innovate and grow. For the Islamic world, it will be impossible. That is the root cause of Islamic radicalism, and there is nothing that the West can do to change it. (Oct 31, '05)

PART 2: The Islamist response
The fact that prominent Islamist academics offer more than moral support for Islamist terrorism is a leading indicator of cultural despair - despair that will lead to terrible and prolonged war with the West as Islam fights to perpetuate itself. Europe will be the likely battlefield, and Paris is already burning. (Nov 7, '05)

A Syriajevo in the making?
The Syrian affair and its dabbling in Lebanon is a diversion. The flashpoint in the Middle East is Iran, where Tehran's leaders single-mindedly pursue a strategic objective, namely nuclear power status, while the Bush administration frets about Iraqi exit strategies and opinion polls. (Oct 24, '05)

The blood is the life, Mr Rumsfeld!
Intra-confessional strife among Shi'ites represents a nastier obstacle to constitutional democracy than the Sunni insurgency. That is why Iraq's constitution will be defeated. More than ever, Shi'ites will bathe in their own blood rather than submit to the subjugation of their tribes. (Oct 11, '05)

Do you call that an empire?
Imperial Grunts by Robert Kaplan
The tattooed, tobacco-chewing, iron-pumping soldiers who make up much of the US Army simply cannot be compared to the soldier-scholars who made the British Empire. Therein lies the great difference between America's global police exercise and a true empire. And as Americans have no empire, there is nowhere to extract wealth. (Oct 3, '05)

China must wait for democracy
Forget China's "flowering of democracy" - promised direct-level township elections. China must rather learn to rule cities that are mushrooming into gigantic urban concentrations populated by poor rural migrants. This great transition places a terrible responsibility in the hands of a very few, and America would be better advised to offer practical suggestions, such as how to develop internal capital markets, rather than grandiose and self-serving advice. 
(Sep 26, '05)

Demographics and Iran's imperial design
Between 2005 and 2050, the shift from workers to pensioners will comprise 21% of Iranians. Tehran's ultra-Islamist government has no hope of ameliorating this impending crisis through productivity growth. Instead, it proposes totalitarian methods at home and imperial expansion as a solution. (Sep 12, '05)


Deep in denial (or in de Mississippi)
Hurricane Katrina should put us in the right frame of mind to consider two new studies on the fall of the Roman Empire. Roman society was as vulnerable as the Louisiana levees and needed only a smart blow to crumble. What's next? (Sep 6, '05)

Lessons for Islam from Quebec
Falling fertility rates go hand in hand with rising nationalism, as they did in Quebec in the 60s and 70s. As with Quebecois nationalism, Islamism welled up from a profound and well-placed sense of fragility, and likewise, its days are numbered.
  (Aug 29, '05)

The demographics of radical Islam
The Muslim birthrate is the second highest in the world but it's falling faster than that of any other culture. Thus, the Islamists have 30 years to establish a global theocracy before the pool of unemployed Arabs - expected to reach 25 million by 2010 - becomes too small to fight a war. (Aug 22, '05)

Why nations die
The topic of mass extinction, particularly through environmental neglect, commands the attention of the reading public, but books that compare the present to bygone civilizations do not tell the whole story. We might be gone today, but somehow the world will survive tomorrow. (Aug 15, '05)

Death by secularism: The statistical evidence
Infertility is killing off the secular world, whose ideologies - socialism, positivism, and so forth - promised an unending vista of peace and prosperity. Statistical evidence strips secularism of its progressive mask and reveals the death's-head underneath. (Aug 1, '05)

Dien Bien Phooey
"Iraqification" is turning out to be a dog's breakfast. Washington is embarrassed, and has no other choice than to adapt by removing American troops from the line of fire. The nation-building program can hit the wall with an arbitrarily high degree of splatter, without perceptible consequences - a far cry from Vietnam War days when potential nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union had to be considered. (Jul 25, '05)

Harry Potter and the Decline of the West
The Harry Potter series, like the "Star Wars" films, are popular because they appeal to complacency and narcissism. The reader is invited to imagine that he is something different, while remaining just what he is. All Harry has to do to be a hero is draw from his inner well of emotions. This is supreme narcissism and the hallmark of decadence, and besides, whoever one is, one's inner feelings are commonplace, dull, and tawdry. That's why there are plenty of cheap thrills thrown in - cheap because they cannot possibly be real. (Jul 19, '05)

Do Muslims worship idols?
Pope Benedict XVI does not say that Muslims worship idols, but he says quite plainly that the "martyr ideology" of Islamist terrorists amounts to an odious form of idol worship, in which "morality and law become instruments of partisan policy". He adds that the West is not blameless in this respect. (Jul 5, '05)

The living fossils' vengeance
Rural Persia voted with one voice to hold the world at bay by electing Mahmud Ahmadinejad as Iran's next president. Poverty is not the issue; the poor voted to remain in poverty. But by clinging to traditional society, the humblest Iranian farmer retains the pride of a conqueror in his heart, and he may soon have nuclear weapons to boast about too. (Jun 27, '05)

Why is good dumb?
The United States of America is uniquely good, and thus uniquely dumb. So, against the radical evil that the US now faces, its good has no natural defenses. It can only hope that its opponents lose the war, because President George W Bush is not going to win it. (Jun 20, '05)

Why Sunnis blow themselves up
Blowing oneself up to kill one's enemy is not the sort of gesture one would expect from people who have given serious thought to parliamentary democracy. But for many Iraqi Sunnis it is not about democracy, despite what the Bush administration might believe. It is about a fight to the death. (Jun 13, '05)

Muslim anguish, Western condescension
US attempts to engineer an Islamic reformation may be the silliest initiative in foreign policy in the history of the world. Muslims will not be persuaded to loosen their grasp on the living presence of Allah on Earth. In its tragic encounter with Islam, the West cannot help but inflict humiliation, just as happened at Guantanamo. (Jun 6, '05)

The Laach Maria monster
In response to the French Revolution, the Catholic Church invented the methods of historical falsification - let's call it the "Laach Maria monster" - that the Nazis applied with such horrifying success. The new pope is trying to set things right. (May 31, '05)

Why the beautiful is not the good
The beautiful, within the Catholic "theology of aesthetics", forms the earthly visage of the unearthly good. Yet the good is not quite the same as the beautiful. It is well for Benedict XVI to think of the angels in heaven playing Mozart for their own enjoyment, as he has said, but it is just as easy to imagine the devils in hell doing the same thing. (May 16, '05)

The pope, the musicians and the Jews
In an effort to raise the Catholic Church out of the ruins of European secularism, Pope Benedict XVI is looking to the biblical background of Christianity and the high culture of the Christian West. In this respect he may be one of the most innovative popes in history; the trouble is, little is left in Europe, either of high culture or of the Jews. (May 9, '05)

The crescent and the conclave
Now that everyone is talking about Europe's demographic death, it is time to point out that there exists a way out: convert European Muslims to Christianity. The reported front-runner at the Vatican conclave that began on Monday, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is one of the few Church leaders unafraid to raise the subject. (Apr 18, '05)

Africa, Islam and the next pope
There is much speculation that the next pope might be African - one out of every eight Catholics is African. Yet this is unlikely, as is the recruitment of African Catholics. An even greater exercise in frustration will be the Church's dialogue with Islam. (Apr 11, '05)

Ratzinger's mustard seed
The Vatican's chief theologian, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, may be the successor to the late pope John Paul II. Ratzinger is one of the few men alive capable of surprising the world, and if he does become the next head of a seriously weakened Catholic Church, he could become a unifying figure in the Christian world. (Apr 4, '05)
The Jihadis of Penzance
Much of what US President George W Bush and his representatives have said lately might have been extracted from a W S Gilbert libretto. To put the matter in context, we present the sort of libretto that Gilbert might have prepared for Arthur Sullivan were the pair alive today, and embedded in it some of these utterances. So, sing along with Spengler. (Mar 21, '05)

 The beast that slouches toward democracy
No woolier idea ever found its way into foreign policy than the premise that democracy will promote Middle East peace. Hezbollah's Hasan Nasrullah has laid a cuckoo's egg in the nest of US policy, conjuring up the specter of a terrorist democracy. (Mar 15, '05)

They made a democracy and called it peace
This year's 60th anniversary of the Anglo-American victory in World War II will call forth innumerable orations about the triumph of liberty. Yet the real defeat of the Germans, Japanese and, later, the Russians is that those peoples are dying out. It seems, then, that the Middle East would be well advised to shun democracy. (Mar 7, '05)

The unmaking of the neo-con mind
The neo-conservatives are not malign but irrelevant. They play at faith rather than live it, and a world dominated by faith politics has passed them by. Professor Gertrude Himmelfarb's fascination with the High Modernist apostle T S Eliot sheds light on the neo-conservative state of mind. (Feb 22, '05)

The Dead Peoples Society
The EU has awarded more than US$32 million to assist the 50 or so "minority languages" still spoken in one form or another in Europe, but such sentimentalist nostalgia is not new: the Roman Empire itself was a casket in which the ghosts of extinct tribes were interred. Americans have abandoned this "Western civilization" for an entirely different throwback. (Feb 14, '05)

Abraham's promise and American power
Abraham's Promise by Michael Wyschogrod, edited by R Kendall Soulen
Not since Abraham Lincoln has the United States felt itself to be a "nearly chosen" people, with a religious mission like that of ancient Israel. This astonishing book reminds that the spirit of American Puritanism might once again become flesh: US evangelicals might awaken one morning as a New Chosen People. (Feb 7, '05)

The dotage of Iraq's democracy
In the case of Iraq, democracy was born already in its old age, hooked up to intravenous devices and breathing tubes and kept alive on the fiscal equivalent of an iron lung - oil. This can in no way be confused with self-determination. (Feb 1, '05)

Whatsa martyr with you?
The ingenue of Tom Wolfe's new novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, by rights should have been a martyr to debauched university life. By sparing his protagonist from martyrdom, Wolfe, rather than holding up the mirror of tragedy to his public, ultimately gives us a smiley-face - and thereby comes close to the literary ideal of US neo-conservatives. (Jan 24, '05)

Two cheers for hypocrisy
The blue-state metrosexuals ridicule as "hypocrites" church-going folk who re-elected US President George W Bush. Yet apart from the saintly, only the unashamedly wicked are guiltless of hypocrisy. The rest of us give lip-service to standards we cannot or will not live up to. It is what makes life, which is by definition a failure, livable. (Jan 18, '05)

For whom the chopper lands
For the aborigines of the Sentinel Islands, the last stone-age people to resist contact with the world, an Indian Coast Guard helicopter landing on their shores seemed a direr threat than the tsunami: it appeared as an exterminating angel. The Sentinelese, for the time being, have kept the chopper at bay. Others are not so fortunate. (Jan 10, '05)

Is 'Americanism' a religion?
Islamists and neo-conservatives concur in calling "Americanism" a religion, for entirely different reasons. And they are both entirely wrong, for both confound American religion with the Bush administration's strategic agenda. (Jan 3, '05)

Santa Clausewitz, a minor Chinese god
Santa Claus, were Christianity to disappear, would live on in China as a minor prosperity god. The Chinese love to shop, so do Americans, exemplified by the Santa symbol of Yuletide acquisitiveness. The US contribution to Chinese prosperity and success goes beyond symbols, however. The result will be Sino-American global duopoly. (Dec 20, '04)

Writing off Europe
Europeans hate and fear the United States, but Americans barely can summon the energy to ignore Europe, which they have written off as a decadent and soon-to-disappear civilization. Indeed, Western civilization, as the heritage of great Europeans of the past, may be harder to preserve than America's pension system, or the "Hooah!" of the US Marine Corps. (Dec 6, '04)

What makes the US a Christian nation
Few people doubt that the United States is a Christian nation. But discontinuity makes American Christianity a baffling quantity to outsiders; only a small minority of American Protestants can point to a direct link to spiritual ancestors a century ago. Yet is the very nature of America that allows Christianity repeatedly to re-create itself there. (Nov 29, '04)

Muslim anguish and Western hypocrisy
Smugness oozes from European politicians who demand that Muslims repudiate violence as a precondition for residence in the West. To repudiate the death sentence for blasphemy, as meted out to Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, would be the same as abandoning the Islamic order. (Nov 22, '04)

The assassin's master sermon
Horrified though they may be by the thought, Westerners have something to learn from the letter that Mohammed B pinned with a knife to Theo van Gogh's corpse after he murdered the Dutch filmmaker this month. The message: antagonistic modes of faith underlie the conflict between the West and the Islamic world. (Nov 15, '04)

Power and the evangelical womb
What we have observed in the demographic shift in the US in favor of "red" (Republican) versus "blue" (Democrat) is only the thin end of an enormous wedge. Religious ("red") Americans will continue to have children, and secular ("blue") Americans will continue to extinguish themselves. "Red" America, characterized first of all by evangelical Christianity, is thriving. (Nov 8, '04)

'It's the culture, stupid'
Liberal commentators blame the high voter turnout of evangelicals - whose numbers plausibly were the factor that won George W Bush re-election - on bigotry. On the contrary, parents become evangelicals, and evangelicals become political, precisely in order to draw a line between their families and the forces of moral decay. (Nov 4, '04)

What Osama might have told America
Everyone is talking about rejuvenated Osama bin Laden's videotape, but television channels aired only four minutes of it. What was in the remaining 14 minutes of it? Plenty. By the time an American child reaches the age of 18, he will have seen on television 40,000 murders and 200,000 other acts of violence. And plenty of sex. This is why Islam will prevail. (Nov 1, '04)

In praise of premature war
Rarely has the West suffered by going to war too soon. On the contrary: among the wars of Western history, the bloodiest were those that started too late. The West, therefore, should be thankful that it has in US President George W Bush a warrior who shoots first and tells the CIA to ask questions later. (Oct 18, '04)

When you forget why you hanged yourself
Frits Bolkestein is the newly notorious member of the European Commission who warned that Europe would implode like the Austro-Hungarian Empire if Turkey were admitted into the EU. But he, like many Europeans, forgets why Austro-Hungary choked on the poisons of its own culture, and so cannot see why Europe is doing the same today. (Oct 5, '04)

Squeegee men and suicide bombers
The anti-terror strategy of the US Department of Homeland Security has criminalized not only terrorists, but also their ideological sympathizers. What this means is that individual Muslims will suffer. Remember, either you are with us ... (Sep 27, '04)

Bush, Marshal Foch and Iran

The situation in Iraq might look hopeless for the US. In fact, as Marshal Foch famously said, "Situation excellent. I shall attack." The target will be Iran, and Iraq will no longer be a problem as it will cease to exist. (Sep 20, '04)

Why Americans love George
Outsiders can see clearly that Democrats are cleverer, better dressed and better looking than those currently running the White House. But it is just the sort of Americans who know they are neither clever nor good-looking who will vote for President George W Bush in November, and that is why he will win. (Sep 13, '04)

Faith, fertility and American dominance
The Empty Cradle by Phillip Longman
This American journalist is not the first person to be horrified by declining birthrates among "modern" civilizations, and to extrapolate that anti-modernists such as evangelical Christians will eventually breed themselves into a position of global dominance. In this book, he hatches schemes such as tax incentives to encourage bigger families and save modernity from itself. (Sep 7, '04)

Click here for earlier articles.

Latest topics on Spengler's Forum


Hit the road
A certain presidential hopeful just can't seem to shake a gaffe he made. There is a way around the problem. It involves a reading of history, about a Yemeni merchant who couldn't control his flatulence, and a degree of travel. (Apr 14, '08)

Turn it into a theme park ...
Of the Atlas-sized problems that drop into the mail box, Spengler dispenses some useful advice to the leader of an emerging superpower dealing with pesky separatists. Pearls of wisdom, too, for an American presidential hopeful ducking and weaving over religion and race, and a burned-out banker charged with bailing out a faltering financial system. (Mar 31, '08)

The perils of believing
what you read

Polls, pundits, and prospectuses: therein lie the lies that fuel disaster everywhere, be it Iran, the Sunni-Shi'ite conflagration, the stock markets, or the US presidential election. (Jul 30, '07)

Lifting veils, in
liturgical tongues

After a long absence, Agony Aunt Spengler again helps the Abrahamic faiths reconcile with one another, and with Britain's ailing National Health Service, whose physicians are moonlighting in the car-bomb industry. (Jul 9, '07)

Weep, drink and be Melly
Sometimes, especially if you are the leader of the free world, there's nothing for it but a touch of the grape. And sometimes, when overindulgence - plus some bad acting - gets you branded an anti-Semite, you have nothing to lose by admitting that you are stark staring mad. (Aug 7, '06)

Yankee noodle
Advice to the leader of the world's only pasta superpower (throw it at China - if it sticks, it's done, and Italy is done for anyway), and to the leader of the world's only military superpower (throw it at Iran - you're in a sticky situation). (May 15, '06)

Chirac, mon ami
The ill wind from Paris blows some good, providing solace for embattled presidents and frustrated popes. (Nov 8, '05)

Women as priests? Women never forgive anything!
Words of wisdom for the new CEO of the world's largest religious denomination, and advice to the head of the only hyperpower on how to avoid the disappointment of democracy-gone-wrong. (Apr 26, '05)

Get it over with quickly
American hegemony today would be infinitely preferable to a contending mob of nuclear-armed states. (Oct 25, '04) 

Christianity and creative destruction
Responses to E Corcoran on the apparent contradiction in the promotion of capitalism by American Christians, to Bliss on "Israel-centric Judeophilia", and to Byzantine on China's one-child policy. Spengler also advises Joseph J Nagarya to go back to Sunday school. (Oct 13, '04)

Know your enemy (including Commentary magazine)
Responses to reader Jim Hughes on the differences in the challenges posed by communism and Islamism, and to Andrew Berman on what Franz Rosenzweig might be doing if he were alive today. (Aug 30, '04)

Of butterfly priests and Spengler's Chaos Theory
If it's love you're looking for, you could try gay Catholicism. If you want to kill and be loved, emulate Arafat: embrace chaos and make sure you only kill Jews.

Will African Christians
raze Mecca?

The secularists who dominate American foreign policy seem to think that they can export the shell of the American system, namely its constitutional forms, without its religious kernel. It seems that the peoples of the South know better.

Of vegetating animals and
annoying in-laws

Spengler replies to readers' queries on a variety of subjects.

Of Groucho, yokels, mullahs and modern 'art'
Dear Shahab, Jean, et al, In response to your complaints that some Islamic writers sound like Jewish mystics, while some rabbis sound like mullahs ...

Are Americans good enough
to be Americans?

An exchange with ATol readers.

On nuking Iran, ending the war, Heraclitus as hero
Dear Spengler, Do you believe that if Israel began destroying neighborhood threats - Egypt, Syria, Jordan, among others - they would be left to take care of business and solve a long-festering problem for good? - JBO

Dear Spengler
, Are the terrorists beatable, or should I just resign myself to the fact that Bush's "war on terror" is going to last for a long long time? -
Martin Leon King

Dear Spengler
, Is there ... a correlation between the cultural decline of the West and the fact that schools no longer instruct on the fundamental philosophical principles underlying Western civilization? -
Peter Taber

The agony aunt
and the eggstacy

Dear Spengler,
Why not open a fertility clinic in Madrid? Spengler's Sperm Bank - has a nice ring to it ... - Robin

The meaning of life
Dear Spengler ... Besides writing the truth to a global audience, couldn't you use some of your intellectual power to push the project of survival in your own country? - Ge Si Wen

Normality is overrated
Dear Spengler  ... Do you have any advice on how to develop the emotional and psychological tools for coping with anti-Semitism? - Uzi Amit-Kohn, Jerusalem.

Spengler's Universal Law
of Gender Parity

Dear Spengler, I am a society made up over a billion people. We have not progressed past 800 AD. We believe women have no worth or rights ... - PM

Dear Spengler
I am the chief executive officer of the world's largest religious  denomination. Through no fault of my own, a number of pedophiles have found their way into positions of responsibility in my organization. This has caused me considerable embarrassment. What can I do to discourage them? - Wretched in Rome


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