Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Study: creating jobs in poor countries doesn’t reduce terrorism

He's better at golf than foreign policy

He’s better at golf than foreign policy

Remember last week when the Obama administration told us that terrorism is caused by poverty and joblessness?

Let’s take a look at the research and see if this is true.

Here’s the working paper, authored by a Harvard University scholar from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

And here’s the abstract:

This article provides an empirical investigation of the determinants of terrorism at the country level. In contrast with the previous literature on this subject, which focuses on transnational terrorism only, I use a new measure of terrorism that encompasses both domestic and transnational terrorism. In line with the results of some recent studies, this article shows that terrorist risk is not significantly higher for poorer countries, once the effects of other country-specific characteristics such as the level of political freedom are taken into account. Political freedom is shown to explain terrorism, but it does so in a non-monotonic way: countries in some intermediate range of political freedom are shown to be more prone to terrorism than countries with high levels of political freedom or countries with highly authoritarian regimes. This result suggests that, as experienced recently in Iraq and previously in Spain and Russia, transitions from an authoritarian regime to a democracy may be accompanied by temporary increases in terrorism. Finally, the results suggest that geographic factors are important to sustain terrorist activities.

More from the body:

However, recent empirical studies have challenged the view that poverty creates terrorism. Using U.S. State Department data on transnational terrorist attacks, Krueger and Laitin (2003) and Piazza (2004) find no evidence suggesting that poverty may generate terrorism. In particular, the results in Krueger and Laitin (2003) suggest that among countries with similar levels of civil liberties, poor countries do not generate more terrorism than rich countries. Conversely, among countries with similar levels of civil liberties, richer countries seem to be preferred targets for transnational terrorist attacks.

I know this is shocking – this the same administration that told us that insuring more people for more stuff would lower health care premiums… and that anyone who though that Russia was a threat was crazy… and that pulling out of Iraq would stabilize the region… could they be wrong about this Jobs for Terrorists program, too? The study seems to say they are wrong again.

But wait, there’s more. We actually know about some terrorists from their terrorist attacks, and we can see if they were as poor and uneducated as the Obama administration tells us they are.

This article is from The Stream.

It says:

According to scholar Scott Atran, a research director in Paris who is part of a NATO group studying suicide terrorism, there is no link between poverty and terrorism. Forensic psychiatrist and former foreign service officer Marc Sageman studied 172 participants in jihad for his book, Understanding Terror Networks, and came to the same conclusion. Princeton economist Claude Berrebi found that members of Palestinian terrorist organizations were frequently better educated and better off economically than the Palestinian Arab population as a whole.

Islamic terrorists tend to come from cosmopolitan backgrounds, are fluent in multiple languages and have advanced computer skills. Their privileged status enables them to accomplish such horrific acts undercover, often without being detected.

Osama bin Laden was the son of a billionaire construction magnate, who had close ties to the Saudi royal family. The younger bin Laden inherited $25–30 million of his family’s wealth. He studied economics and business administration at King Abdulaziz University.

Bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced him as the leader of al Qaeda, came from wealthy Egyptian parents. His father was a surgeon and medical professor, and his mother came from a politically active, financially successful clan. Al-Zawahiri also became a surgeon, even obtaining a master’s degree in surgery.

The leader of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mohammad Atta, studied architecture in Cairo, Egypt, then entered an urban planning graduate program at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg in Germany. His father was a lawyer and his mother came from a wealthy farming and trading family.

The “underwear bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker and businessman. His father was the chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and has been described by the UK paperThe Times as “one of the richest men in Africa.” Umar studied at several universities, including  University College London, where he studied Engineering and Business Finance and earned a degree in mechanical engineering.

One of the 2005 London bombers left an estate valued at over $150,000. Dawood Ibrahim, who coordinated the 1993 Mumbai bombings, is worth somewhere between $6 and $20 billion. Ibrahim despised his father’s successful banking profession, condemning it as “immoral” and “un-Islamic” for charging interest, and urged him to quit.

Now, my understanding is that when we elect politicians to run the economy, foreign affairs, etc. that we are picking people who understand the issues – not merely people who give speeches that sound nice. If I am hiring someone to fix my car, I don’t want to hear his pet theory about how gremlins are causing the leak. I want people who can see the world clearly, apart from any political correctness or anti-American bias, so that the problems get solved. I want the problems solved effectively and cheaply – that’s what I am used to in the private sector, where competence matters. It seems to me that the next time we have an election, we ought to elect someone who can do the work – not someone who just talks a lot of counter-factual nonsense.

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Will Democrats blame global warming or the Crusades for the murder of 21 Christians?

Breitbart reports on a new video from Islamic State: (H/T Ari)

A newly released video by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists showing the mass beheading of 21 Christians condemns the faith’s believers as “crusaders.”

“All crusaders: safety for you will be only wishes, especially if you are fighting us all together,” a man on the video says with a North American English accent. “The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama Bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.”

The five-minute video, which includes the caption, “The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church,” shows Egyptian Coptic Christian men on their knees in orange jumpsuits having their heads severed by black-clad terrorists.

President Barack Obama has yet to comment on the mass beheading of Christians by Islamic State terrorists, since he was golfing on Sunday at a private golf course owned by billionaire Larry Ellison.

The release of the Islamic State’s Christian beheading video comes a week-and-a-half after Obama infuriated Christians by using the occasion of the National Prayer Breakfast to lecture Christians not to get on their “high horse” about Islamic State terrorists burning a caged Jordanian pilot because “during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

The Democrats also declined to specify that the victims of this attack were Christians. That’s the same thing he did when he described the Jewish victims of Islamic terrorism as “a bunch of folks” who were “randomly shot“. Radical Islam is not the problem that Democrats are trying to solve, you know. Obama likes to call this sort of thing “senseless violence” or “workplace violence” in order to avoid impugning radical Islam. The State Department is now saying that radical Islam’s root cause is that we don’t give them “job opportunities“.

Democrats would prefer to ignore radical Islamic terrorism and focus on the real threat.

CNS News explains:

Not radical Muslim terrorism, not an unsecured border, not an ever-growing federal debt that now exceeds $18 trillion, not the fact that 109 million live in households on federal welfare programs. These are not the greatest threats facing us today.

“No challenge–no challenge–poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” President Obama declared in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.

[…]President Obama then said that the U.S. military is saying that “climate change” is causing immediate risks to our national security–although he did not explain exactly what this meant or how the “Pentagon” had arrived at this conclusion.

“The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security,” said Obama. “We should act like it.”

Global warming alarmism really means increased regulation of business and consumer activity – that’s the greatest threat we face, according to Democrats. I think what we are seeing is a fundamental lack of seriousness on global security and foreign policy by the golfer-in-chief and his panel of cultural relativist advisors.

This article from the left-leaning Atlantic makes the point that ISIS/ISIL is very much Islamic:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.

[…]Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to [Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel]. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.

According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”

All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

Democrats are not just unserious about radical Islam, but in Ukraine, too.

Please do read this column from Charles Krauthammer:

Take Russia. The only news out of Obama’s one-hour press conference with Angela Merkel this week was that he still can’t make up his mind whether to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons. The Russians have sent in T-80 tanks and Grad rocket launchers. We’ve sent in humanitarian aid that includes blankets, MREs and psychological counselors.

How complementary: The counselors do grief therapy for those on the receiving end of the T-80 tank fire. “I think the Ukrainian people can feel confident that we have stood by them,” said Obama at the news conference.

Indeed. And don’t forget the blankets. America was once the arsenal of democracy, notes Elliott Abrams. We are now its linen closet.

Why no anti-tank and other defensive weapons? Because we are afraid that arming the victim of aggression will anger the aggressor.

[…]This passivity — strategic, syntactical, ideological — is more than just a reaction to the perceived overreach of the Bush years. Or a fear of failure. Or bowing to the domestic left. It is, above all, rooted in Obama’s deep belief that we — America, Christians, the West — lack the moral authority to engage, to project, i.e., to lead.

I play wargames quite often, and in my experience I find that T-80s are very capable, especially against the Ukraine. The main armament is a very good 125 mm gun with an auto-loader, and unlike the M1A2 Abrams, it does have anti-tank guided missiles. It also has reactive armor, making it resistant to ordinary man-portable anti-tank weapon systems. Yes, it doesn’t have the fire control or speed of the Abrams, but it is a very good tank. It has a very nice low-profile turrent that is hard to hit with unguided anti-tank missiles, especially when it is hull-down.

You are not going to be able to take out one of these from the front with a grenade or a light anti-tank weapon. You will need specialized anti-tank capability, either a well-equipped tank, or a shoulder-fired ATGM (e.g. – Javelin) or a TOW ATGM. In short, we need to arm Ukraine if we expect them to be able to deter a force equipped with T-80 tanks. This is not even to mention what is needed for Ukraine to be able to deal with Russian close-air support helicopters (Mi-28 / Ka-50, etc.) and/or strike aircraft (Su-34).

We really need to think carefully about foreign policy when we vote in elections – weakness and indecisiveness emboldens aggressors. The price of cutting our military budget in favor of Obamacare, green energy, welfare and other crap is that we can no longer reach into hotspots all over the world and prevent small threats from growing into bigger ones. We lose our ability to deter aggression and stop wars before they happen.

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David Axelrod: Obama lied about gay marriage in 2008 in order to get elected

This is from Life Site News.

Excerpt:

A former senior adviser to President Obama has confirmed what his most strident critics have said all along: Barack Obama lied to the American people about opposing gay “marriage” to boost his chances of winning the 2008 presidential elections.

David Axelrod, a veteran of Chicago left-wing politics who advised Obama during the campaign, makes the admission in a new book Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, which hits book shelves today.

Obama first indicated his support for redefining marriage while running for state office in Illinois in 1996, filling out a questionnaire that said, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

Candidate Obama wanted to publicly broadcast his views during his campaigns for national office but was afraid the position – then radically unpopular – would end his chances of becoming president. Axelrod writes that campaign manager Jim Messina warned Obama that backing same-sex “marriage” could cost him the electoral votes of North Carolina.

Instead, both he and Hillary Clinton said they held to the traditional definition of marriage, although they supported “civil unions” for homosexuals.

During a 2008 debate, Obama told Saddleback Church megapastor Rick Warren, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

But Axelrod reveals in his new book that, after proclaiming his support for marriage at one campaign event, Obama dismissed his rhetoric as nothing more than a bout of “bullsh—ing.”

Axelrod said that the candidate agreed to conceal his views, but “Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position. He routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews.”

When others asked about Obama’s 1996 campaign statement, his supporters played it off as a campaign snafu. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in 2011, “That questionnaire was actually filled out by someone else.”

As a candidate, he walked a thin line, stating his support for traditional marriage – but opposing any efforts that would legally codify that belief and backing government policies that would grant greater acceptance (and benefits) to homosexuals. In 2008, he dismissed opposition to homosexuality as based on “an obscure passage in Romans.”

Obama did, in fact, carry North Carolina in 2008 on his way to the White House, where he chose to bide his time until he could come out in favor of gay “marriage.”

I can remember like yesterday talking to two black Christians in the parking lot outside my office after work about Obama, just before the 2008 elections. Both of them went to church, and both claimed to be evangelical Christians. One in particular loved the writing of Alistair Begg and read lots of Reformed theology. I asked them who they were voting for, and they said “we are voting for Obama”. I told them both about his votes on the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act in Illinois (he voted in favor of infanticide multiple times), his 1996 position in support of gay marriage, his support for cap and trade carbon taxes, his weak stance on national security, and more. I told them that if we ever hoped to repeal Roe v. Wade, that we could not elect this man President. I told him he would pick two pro-abortion Supreme Court judges, at least (and he already has picked two, and will get more in all likelihood). They told me I was wrong about everything and that Obama was pro-life, pro-marriage and really tough on Islamic terrorism.

I also spoke to a black Christian woman in my office. She loved to read books on Bible Study and theology so that she could teach in the church. She even knew some basic apologists, something that the two black guys did not know. She was a much more avid reader than the two guys, who seemed to be more focused on sports, movies and music. She also voted for Obama. I remember her saying she would vote for him, and I could not believe my ears. She was very strong on being pro-life and pro-marriage.

Should Christians have voted for Obama?

Should Christians have voted for Obama?

I was one of the 5 percent who did not vote for Obama in 2008, despite having dark skin just like my 3 co-workers who voted for him. Those conversations with those three people will stay with me till the day I die. I don’t think I have ever really understand how much people could suppress evidence in order to keep their beliefs before, until I spoke to those people. When I asked them if they were conservative Christians, they told me that they were. I went to a barbecue at one of their houses and saw bookshelves filled with Christian books. And yet they voted for a radical on abortion and a supporter of gay marriage, even when I told them about Obama’s voting record.

Skin color doesn’t matter to me when I am picking a candidate, but to some people it mattered more than facts.

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Obama: Kosher deli attack was “random”, Iran developing nuclear weapons “contrary to their faith”

This is from the Weekly Standard.

They write:

President Obama referred to the Islamic terrorists who killed several French Jews last month as people who “randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris” in an interview with liberal website Vox.com. In Tuesday’s press briefing, ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to clarify the president’s position on the terrorists’ motivation to attack the kosher supermarket.

“Does the president have any doubt that those terrorists attack that deli because there would be Jews in that deli?” Karl asked.

“It is clear from the terrorists and the writings that they put out afterward what their motivation was,” Earnest responded. “The adverb that the president chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible, tragic incident were killed not because of who they were but because of where they randomly happened to be.”

“These individuals were not targeted by name,” Earnest added.

“Not by name, but by religion, were they not?” Karl asked.

“There were people other than just Jews who were in that deli,” Earnest said.

After Karl asked again if there was any doubt by the president that the shop was attacked because of the likelihood the terrorists would be able to kill Jews, Earnest finally said, “No.”

[…]State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was pressed on this question as well, and she refused to speak about the motive behind the attack.

It was random! It was the Crusaders! Pretty sure.

Here’s Josh Earnest:

And Jen Psaki:

But we’re not done yet. No, now Obama is telling us that Iran promises not to develop nuclear weapons because it’s “contrary to their faith”.

Real Clear Politics has the transcript:

At a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel President Obama addressed the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iaran. According to the Supreme Leader of Iran, said Obama, “it would be contrary to their faith to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The issues now are sufficiently narrowed and sufficiently clarified where we’re at a point where they need to make a decision. We are presenting to them in a unified fashion, the P5+1 supported by a coalition of countries around the world are presenting to them a deal that allows them to have peaceful nuclear power but gives us the absolute assurance that is verifiable that they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon.

And if in fact what they claim is true, which is they have no aspiration to get a nuclear weapon, that in fact, according to their Supreme Leader, it would be contrary to their faith to obtain a nuclear weapon, if that is true, there should be the possibility of getting a deal. They should be able to get to yes. But we don’t know if that’s going to happen.

Although Iran has been caught cheating on nuclear deals before, this time they really promise to be good. For realsies! Pinky swear!

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Obama responds to Islamic State terrorism by saying Christians are just as bad

In the past I blogged about four myths about the Crusades, but for our purposes, the most important is that the Crusades at least started out as defensive reactions to the conquest of Western lands by Islam.

Anyway, here’s a reaction to Obama’s moral equivalence from Investors Business Daily.

First, what Obama did:

In remarks at a prayer meeting Thursday, President Obama implied Christianity, just like Islam, is filled with people who “hijack religion for their own murderous ends.” This is the progressive disease of moral equivalence at its worst.

In recent days and weeks, the world has watched grimly as the horrific barbarity of fundamentalist Islam has been put on full display.

With routine beheadings, crucifixions, tortures, mass killings of civilians, burying children alive, and, most recently, burning a prisoner alive and filming his death agony to the approving yells of onlookers, it’s clear something is horribly wrong within Islam.

And yet, apart from rather routine denunciations of the savagery, Obama used his appearance at a National Prayer Breakfast to upbraid Christians for their sins.

“Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” Obama said. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

They write:

The remarks aren’t merely insulting. They betray a deep ignorance of Western Judeo-Christian culture and its history.

No one claims Christians haven’t done terrible things, some in the name of religion. But this is a straw-man argument.

Obama, for instance, talks of the Crusades. But far from being about conquest, the Crusades were a counter-reaction to the Muslim jihad that swept Christian lands in the Mideast, North Africa, Spain and Balkans.

Nothing less than Western civilization was at stake. Not much has changed today.

According to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List for 2015, “Approximately 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world.”

And who are the persecutors? “Islamic extremism is the main source of persecution in 40 of the 50 countries” that make up Open Doors USA’s watch list, the report says.

Meanwhile, how are Muslims in the West treated? With visas, welfare, legal protection, even special speech codes to protect their religious sensibilities, along with copious apologies by people such as Obama. Even terrorists at Gitmo are given Halal meals, prayer mats and Qurans.

Obama’s done this before. In a speech in Cairo in 2009, he also suggested the Christian West had much to answer for.

In point of fact, the West’s Judeo-Christian heritage has led to tolerance, justice, women’s rights and the abolition of slavery.

Neither slavery nor Jim Crow laws were “justified” by the U.S. Christian mainstream. Indeed, as history shows, Christians were the driving force behind the anti-slavery movement in the U.S. But slavery is still found in the Muslim Mideast and Africa.

Terrorist murderers won’t be appeased by Obama’s cringe-worthy remarks. They’ll be encouraged. As such, they aren’t merely wrong — they’re dangerous.

I’ve noticed this “reasoning” that Obama is employing before when discussing social issues with feminists. I produce facts showing that children are least likely to be abused when they grow up with their own parents in a married home. And they say that there exists some child who was abused by his married parents. As if the existence of one counterexample negates the probabilities or the relative frequencies in different situations. What Obama is really saying is this “because you defended yourself from Muslim conquerors 900 years ago, that justifies kidnapping underage girls into sex slavery after you murder their parents in front of them”. Should we have elected a President who is incapable of basic reasoning about history and about ethics? Well, we did.

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