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Articles and Blog Posts by Daniel Pipes   RSS 2.0 Feed

Ted Cruz for President

by Daniel Pipes  •  May 1, 2016

As a conservative who believes in individual responsibility, limited government, free markets, caution in making social changes, and a robust foreign policy, all my adult life I have been a Republican and (with the single exception of an eccentric race for attorney general in Philadelphia, when the Democrat was tougher than the Republican) I always vote Republican.

But the Republican presidential primary of 2016 is unlike any other because the most popular candidate – Donald J. Trump – not only ignores conservative values but, to put it delicately, lacks the knowledge, experience, dignity, and character to serve as president of the United States.

In this spirit, along with 120 others, I signed a Mar. 2 "Open Letter on Donald Trump from GOP National Security Leaders" that asserted we "commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office." I wrote an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled "There's a Name for Trump's Brand of Politics: Neo-fascism." I regularly tweet with the #NeverTrump hashtag.

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ISIS is Collapsing

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 19, 2016  •  Miami Herald

I predict that the ISIS state in Syria and Iraq will collapse as fast as it arose. Indeed, I will go out on a limb and say I expect it to be gone by the end of 2016.

That the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) will be gone is predictable because all totalitarian states eventually disappear due to three main developments: cadres become disillusioned, subject populations suffer, and external enemies increase in number. All these problems afflicted, for example, the fascist states of World War II as well as the Soviet bloc.

ISIS will collapse quickly because it suffers from an extreme form of these problems.

Disillusioned cadres: The heaven-on-earth ISIS promises its recruits turns out to be closer to hell, prompting many recruits to flee and many more to want to. Growing numbers of ISIS fighters lack loyalty to the group, toiling only for the money or out of fear. The reasons can be as mundane as bad food and as elevated as bad theology, but grievous disappointment is the common theme coming from the ranks of ISIS members. Radical ideologues evolve into penitents; drug-addled fighters end up as near-vegetables.

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Does Israel Need U.S. Jewish Support?

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 18, 2016  •  Israel Hayom

Elliott Abrams began a conversation by asking what has caused American Jews to distance themselves from Israel and finding the main cause to be the 50-to-60 percent rate of Jewish intermarriage with non-Jews.

Martin Kramer then added a second factor: the changing balance of power between American and Israeli Jews. "When the state of Israel was established in 1948, there were six million American Jews and 700,000 Israelis: a proportion of nine to one. ... today, the ratio of American to Israeli Jews is one-to-one—about six million in each country. In another twenty years, there will be well over eight million Jews in Israel, and probably fewer than six million in America." Nor are numbers the whole story: "these Israelis are economically prosperous and militarily powerful" even as "Jewish political clout" erodes in the United States. As a result, Israelis pay less attention to American Jewish opinion, which in turn leads to American Jewish alienation.

I agree with both their arguments and should like to add a third perspective:

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The UAE's Fragile Good Life

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 11, 2016  •  Washington Times

ABU DHABI - In a region of civil war (Syria, Yemen, Libya), hardening dictatorship (Turkey, Egypt), nuclear build up (Iran), and potential water calamity (Iraq), where in the Middle East outside Israel can one find the good life? Surprisingly perhaps, in the United Arab Emirates, a country in the Persian Gulf.

Despite the country's many challenges – proximity to Iran and Iraq, almost no natural fresh water, oil prices tanking, 8/9ths of the population foreign, violent Islamists lurking – its 10 million inhabitants live well.

Two basic facts set the scene. First, the UAE has the near-unique distinction of being (along with Switzerland), a country ruled by committee, a unique one: the seven rulers of the seven individual emirates. Further, those rulers are embedded in extended and influential families. This combination makes it difficult for one individual to dominate the country or to rule as a narcissist. At the same time, each sovereign (notably, the emir of Dubai) enjoys wide latitude within his own domain, giving each emirate a distinct character.

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MEF's Surprising Straw Poll on Trump

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 10, 2016

The Middle East Forum sent out a questionnaire over my name on April 5 to its mailing lists asking a single question: "How do you see Donald Trump as the Republican Party's presidential candidate?" We then offered four replies:

  • #MakeAmericaGreatAgain - Trump, with enthusiasm.
  • #BetterTrumpThanHillary - Trump, but not happy about it.
  • #NeverTrump - Anyone but Donald Trump.
  • No opinion.

We let the straw poll run for five days and had 3,637 replies. Of these, 23 percent express enthusiasm for Trump, 42 percent unhappily prefer him to Hillary, and 32 percent say no, never.

Some observations about these results:

1. From a macro point of view, this is a rough split into thirds, pointing to the supreme divisiveness of Trump's candidacy.

2. The one-fifth for Trump roughly equals the national average, where he gets about two-fifths of the Republican vote and close to zero of the Democratic one.

3. Nearly two-thirds of our audience would vote for Trump in the general election, a much larger number than expected and completely out of line with national polling. This points to vehement anti-Hillary sentiments among MEF readers.

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There's a Name for Trump's Brand of Politics: Neo-fascism

by Daniel Pipes  •  April 8, 2016  •  Philadelphia Inquirer

Of his many outrageous campaign statements, perhaps Donald J. Trump's most important ones concern his would-be role as president of the United States.

When told that uniformed personnel would disobey his unlawful order as president to torture prisoners and kill civilians, Trump menacingly replied "They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse, believe me." Responding to criticism by the speaker of the House, Trump spoke like a Mafia don: "Paul Ryan, I don't know him well, but I'm sure I'm going to get along great with him. And if I don't? He's gonna have to pay a big price." Complaining that the United States' international standing has declined, Trump promised to make foreigners "respect our country" and "respect our leader" by creating an "aura of personality." Concerning the media, which he despises, Trump said, "I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."

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Turkey's Erdoğan Gambles and Loses

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 19, 2016  •  Australian

The Republic of Turkey, long a democratizing Muslim country solidly in the Western camp, now finds itself internally racked and at the center of two external crises, the civil war in next-door Syria and the illegal immigration that is changing European politics. The prospects for Turkey and its neighbors are worrisome, if not ominous.

The key development was the coming to power of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2002, when a fluke election outcome gave him total control of the government, which he then brilliantly parlayed into a personal dominion. After years of restraint and modesty, his real personality – grandiloquent, Islamist, and aggressive – came out. Now, he seeks to rule as a despot, an ambition that causes his country incessant, avoidable problems.

Initially, Erdoğan's disciplined approach to finance permitted the Turkish economy to achieve China-like economic growth and won him increasing electoral support while making Ankara a new player in regional affairs. But then conspiracy theories, corruption, short-sightedness, and incompetence cut into the growth, making Turkey economically vulnerable.

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Iraq's Coming Apocalypse

by Daniel Pipes  •  March 13, 2016  •  Washington Times

No, it's not ISIS or rampaging Shi'i militias. It's the Mosul Dam, Iraq's largest, and its possible collapse, perhaps leading to millions of deaths. Those in the know worry catastrophe could strike this spring, as snows melt and build an uncontrollable water pressure.

Hastily built in wartime for the dictator Saddam Hussein by a German-Italian consortium, the Mosul Dam was located where it is because one of Hussein's cronies came from the area and used his pull, despite the fact that engineers knew from the start that its porous gypsum base could not sustain such a huge structure.

What was then called the Saddam Dam opened in 1984 and within two years needed constant grouting, that is, day and night infusions of microfine cement, lots of it – 200 million pounds over the decades – to keep it from collapsing. The grouting keeps the foundational problem from worsening but does not solve it.

The years went by; fortunately, there was no disaster on the American watch. Then, during a fateful ten-day period, August 7-17, 2014, the Islamic State (ISIS) seized control of the dam. While the group neither sabotaged nor blew up the structure, grouting stopped for six weeks and the whole repair regime – especially the skilled workers and the supply of cement – henceforth became less consistent.

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India-West Asia Relationship Can Swing Either Way

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 24, 2016  •  Hindustan Times (New Delhi)

NEW DELHI – Although it's been a quarter-century since India came out from its era of socialist economics and pro-Soviet foreign policy, recent discussions I held with intellectuals in New Delhi and elsewhere suggest to me that foreign policy specialists in this ascending power are still fundamentally thinking through their role in the world, especially vis-à-vis the United States, China, and what they call West Asia (i.e., the Middle East).

Although the first two countries rightly attract most attention, the Middle East presents acute challenges to India – plus a dash of opportunity. Here's a review of principal connections to that volatile region:

Islamism: Islamic influence has historically nearly always moved from the Middle East to other regions, including South Asia, and almost never the reverse. At present, that is the case with the Islamist doctrine – the contention that to become rich and strong, Muslims must revert to a medieval model and fully apply Islamic laws – which bellows out most strongly from Saudi Arabia and Iran targeting, respectively, Sunni and Shiite Muslims worldwide. Their influence radicalizes traditionally moderate Muslim populations in many regions (such as the Balkans and Indonesia) and carries extraordinarily dire implications for India, whose vast Muslim community of 177 million represents far and away the largest religious minority in the world. (The 67 million Christians in China rank second.)

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Can Egypt and Ethiopia Share the Nile?

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 18, 2016  •  Washington Times

Oil is the Middle East's glamor product, sought after by the entire world and bringing the region wealth beyond the dream of avarice. But water is the mundane resource that matters even more to locals for, without it, they face the horrible choice of leaving their homes or perishing within them.

That choice may sound hyperbolic, but the threat is real. Egypt stands out as having the largest population at risk and being the country, other than Iraq and Yemen, with the most existential hydrologic problem.

As every schoolchild learns, Egypt is the gift of the Nile and the Nile is by far the globe's longest river. Less well known is that most of the Nile's volume, 90 percent, comes from the highlands of Ethiopia and that the river passes through 11 countries. For uncounted eons, its water flowed to Egypt in uncounted quantities.

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Assessing Obama's Mosque Speech on Islam

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 8, 2016  •  Investigative Project on Terrorism

Wishing to address growing anti-Islamic sentiments among the American public, Barack Obama ventured on Feb. 3 to the Islamic Society of Baltimore (sadly, a mosque with unsavory Islamist associations) to talk about Islam and Muslims. The 5,000-word speech contains much of interest. Here's an in-depth assessment of its key points:

OBAMA: a lot of Americans have never visited a mosque. To the folks watching this today who haven't — think of your own church, or synagogue, or temple, and a mosque like this will be very familiar. This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and each other. There's a school where teachers open young minds. Kids play baseball and football and basketball — boys and girls — I hear they're pretty good. Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts meet, recite the Pledge of Allegiance here.

PIPES: All true, but what about the dark side, the unique and repeated role of mosques in parlaying totalitarian ideas and fomenting violence? That goes unsaid in the president's rose-colored presentation.

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Identifying Islamists through Interrogations
Skillful questions can distinguish enemy from friend among Muslims

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 13, 2016  •  Washington Times

When Donald Trump in December called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," I replied that changing just one word – "Islamists" instead of "Muslims" – would transform his outrageous and dead-end effusion into a politically feasible and operationally viable policy idea.

In response, came this valid question from readers: And how does one distinguish between Muslims who are Islamist from those who are not? This is a very doable task, though an expensive, time-consuming one demanding great skill.

By Islamists (as opposed to moderates), I mean those approximately 10-15 percent of Muslims who seek to apply Islamic law (the Shari'a) in its entirety. Islamists, not all Muslims, are the modern barbarians; they, not all Muslims, must urgently be excluded from the United States and other Western countries.

Both in-depth research and intensive interviews are needed before allowing aliens into the United States. The process should start with an inquiry into the prospective immigrant's family, friends, associations, employment, memberships, and activities. The immigration services should look for anomalies, gaps, questionable activities, and dubious relationships; when it finds these, it must probe them.

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2015's Hits at DanielPipes.org

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 10, 2016

Which articles, blog posts, speeches, and interviews on my web site, DanielPipes.org, fared best in the year recently concluded? In ascending order, here are 2015's ten most widely read, listened-to, and watched pages:

10. Middle East Provocations and Predictions (Sep. 9)

A survey of critical Middle East issues: the Iranian nuclear buildup, ISIS, Erdoğan's Turkey, the Saudi monarchy, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Islamism, and Israel.

9. What Actually Causes American Fear of Islam and Muslims? (Feb. 13)

A critique of Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network's Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America, an 81-page report from the leftist Center for American Progress (CAP). It lists me as part of "a well-funded, well-organized" movement determined to "intentionally spread lies" about Muslims and "erode America's core values of religious pluralism, civil rights, and social inclusion." To which, I reply: thanks for the credit but Americans fear Islam and Muslims not because of us analysts but because of daily news about Islamist violence and cultural aggression.

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Two Weaknesses Could Undo the Islamist Movement

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 4, 2016  •  Boston Globe

The Islamist movement may appear stronger than ever, but a close look suggests two weaknesses that might doom it, and perhaps quickly.

Its strengths are obvious. The Taliban, Al-Shabaab, Boku Haram, and ISIS take Islamism – the ideology calling for Islamic law to be applied in its entirety and severity – to unbearable extremes, rampaging and brutalizing their way to power. Pakistan could fall into their hands. The ayatollahs of Iran enjoy a second wind thanks to the Vienna deal. Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is becoming Turkey's dictator. Islamist operatives swarm the Mediterranean toward Europe.

But weaknesses within, especially squabbling and disapproval, could undo the Islamist movement.

Infighting became vicious in 2013, when Islamists abruptly stopped their prior pattern of cooperation among themselves and instead began internecine fighting. Yes, the Islamist movement as a whole shares similar goals, but it also contains different intellectuals, groups, and parties with variant ethnic affiliations, tactics, and ideologies.

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Paris' Eerily Familiar 1930s Immigrant Problem

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 4, 2016

The world's most prolific author, the Belgian writer Georges Simenon, published a mock-memoir in 1951, Les Mémoires de Maigret (Paris: Les Presses de la Cité; English: Maigret's Memoirs, London: Heinemann, 1978), which featured the ostensible recollections of his fictional character, Inspector Maigret. The sixth chapter, titled in the English translation "One Staircase after Another!" (and brought to my attention by C. Paul Barreira) describes the pro-fascist uprising in Paris on Feb. 6, 1934. It reminds one eerily of today's North African immigration and Islamist alienation.

Simenon begins by noting that during political upheavals, human elements commonly appear in wealthier districts of Paris "whose very existence is generally unknown there, who seem to have emerged from some haunt of beggars and whom the inhabitants watch from their windows as they might watch ruffians and cutthroats suddenly appearing from the depths of the Middle Ages." These elements proceed to "spread as much terror around them as a pack of wolves."

He then asks if it is known that a single police squad is

solely concerned with the two to three hundred thousand North Africans, Portuguese and Algerians who live in the outskirts of the 20th arrondissement, who camp out there, one might rather say, scarcely knowing our language or not knowing it at all, obeying other laws, other reflexes than our own?

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